Analysis of Republican Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa, August 10

As a pot smoking, pro-choice-on-abortion person, I support Ron Paul completely and unhesitatingly. I believe that within the first ten articles of the Constitution, criminalizing abortion is a state issue. I’m content to have 50 states debating and experimenting with decentralized democracies. I trust Ron Paul’s judgement, his consistency, his 20 years in Congress obeying his oath of office to defend the Constitution. He is intelligent, articulate, science & reason based, and he loves liberty. He understands the 9th and 10th Amendments better than anyone else. I’m a believer. Put me to work beside those pro-lifers and lets choose a President together who can respect all our liberties and perogatives under the Bill of Rights.
Here is my review of The Ames, Iowa Straw Poll:

Over 26,000 people attended, though with many out-of-state supporters unable to vote, 14,302 votes were cast, a lower than expected turnout. Each vote cost $35, had to be cast by an Iowa adult, and a minimum of 500 ballots HAD to be bought by a participating campaign to give to their supporters. Mitt Romney is said to have bought 10,000 votes, literally, but less than half were used for Romney votes. The Straw Poll takes place at the sprawling Hilton Coliseum and the grounds outside that are part of the Iowa State University, in Ames, a city smack in the geographical center of Iowa. Republicans meet any year that a new Republican Presidential candidate needs to be chosen, in this case for the 2008 campaign, and try to thin out the field by measuring support. Those who fail in the Ames Straw Poll often quit the race.

Those on the Straw Poll ballot, in alphabetical order, were:

a) Senator Sam Brownback, currently representing neighboring state of Kansas, a religious conservative (Creationist),

b) John Cox, an Illinois accountant of no importance who has paid the $25,000 fee to compete for the nomination,

c) Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of New York from 1993 to 2001, and the nation’s leading jailer of marijuana users in that time (350,000 arrests of pot smokers in those 8 years),

d) Mike Huckabee, Arkansas Governor from 1989 to 2001, religious conservative (Creationist),

e) Duncan Hunter, US Congressman from California’s 4th District, former Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee,

f) John McCain, Senator from Arizona, Vietnam prisoner of war for 5 years from 1967 – 1973,

g) Mitt Romney, wealthy scion of George Romney, a Republican heavyweight from the the 1960’s,is a former Masssachusetts Governor, a Mormon, and brains behind the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics,

h) Ron Paul, 10-term US Congressman from Texas 14th district, a libertarian Republican, Lutheran, The Champion of the Constitution,

i) Tom Tancredo, US Congressman from Colorado, religious conservative (Creationist),

j) Fred Thompson, Law & Order actor, one-time Senator of Tennessee,
k) Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health in the first George Bush administration, former governor of neighboring Wisconsin.

Mitt Romney is esimated to have spent $3 million to $6 million dollars in Iowa leading up to Ames Straw Poll, only to be able to bus in 4,516 votes, an average cost of $750 to $1,250 per vote received! Romney hired a fleet of over 100 buses, many only half full, to bring in the Republican hard core.

Mitt Romney was first in the Straw Poll at 31.6% 4,516 votes of 14,302 cast. This is more of a failure for Romney than a victory. Attendence was down from the 1989 and 1999 Straw Polls, considerably, meaning all Romney’s money could not excite the Republican base to come and vote at the straw poll in any significant volume. Romney spent up to $5 million, Mike Huckabee spent $150,000 leading up to the Straw Poll, Ron Paul spent about $220,000, Sam Brownback spent over $500,000. Ballots cost $35 each but each campaign was allowed to buy any number of votes to hand out to the faithful!

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the real winner in second place for 18.1% of the vote, 2,587 votes.

Mike Huckabee spent $150,000, leaving just a little more than that in his thin campaign war-chest, but came out with more votes per dollar spent than the much larger campaign budgets of Sam Brownback and Mitt Romney.

Huckabee is the big winner at Ames. Romney came in first but he really lost because the obscene amount of money spent to get 4,516 votes is shocking and embarrassing just to “win” a non-binding, very regional test of one’s campaign support. Huckabee polled strongly despite a low key, modest cost campaign.

Sam Brownback is a Senator from neighboring Kansas state, and came in third with 15.3% of the votes cast, 2,192 votes.

Spending much more than Huckabee, Brownback had lavish large pavilion tents and a fleet of buses to bring Iowans to Ames, but three creationists (Brownback, Huckabee, Tancredo) and one Mormon are lobbying for the religious conservative vote. Brownback has Mormon Romney and Creationist Huckabee ahead of him, and a surprisingly strong showing by relative unknown Tom Tancredo just behind him. Brownback’s campaign will be challenged to put a good light on this outcome. Huckabee and Tancredo got a big boost, Brownback essentially stalled with his base.

Iowa Republicans are largely anti-abortion, pro-war, and the three Creationists at the Straw Poll polled 47% of the vote between them. With Mormon Romney added, 78% of votes went to Creationists/Mormon candidates. That shows us that Iowa Republicans probably tip the scales into “extreme social conservatives.”

Tom Tancredo received 1,961 votes for 13.7% of the votes cast. This may be the biggest surprise. Tom Tancredo has recently said that the USA should bomb Islamic holy cities if there is another terrorist attack on the USA. Tancredo’s campaign is a one note thing, he’s AGAINST illegal immigration, in a big, loud way, and this Iowa base rewarded his Creationist and anti-immigration positions.

Tom Tancredo, I want to note, has supported State’s Rights to Medical Marijuana by voting for the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment each year. As a Presidential candidate, he’s an animated wild-eyed extremist with a limited menu of positions, but he maxed out on them in the right forum here at Ames.

Ron Paul Loves Liberty!Ron Paul Loves Liberty!With hard-core fundamentalists getting 78% of the Ames Straw Poll, how did Ron Paul do?

Coming in fifth, Ron Paul received 1,305 votes for 9.1%

In his podium speech, Paul established his Lutheran bonafides at the outset, speaking about his pro-life beliefs, his position against illegal immigration and birthright citizenship. He then moved on the Constitution, the war, the defence of liberty. Ron Paul’s supporters were very visible and loud and with alot of great signs.

Ron Paul only opened his campaign in Iowa earlier this week, and had two of his largest fundraisers in his campaign so far. Ron Paul spent $220,000 on the Ames Straw Poll, including television ads. Yet Ron Paul raised over $110,000 this week in Iowa, the best fundraising total for the week of the 11 Republicans. Coming in a solid fifth, Ron Paul established that he has a foothold in the race and probably will derive more momentum from the Straw Poll than anyone else but Mike Huckabee. 9% is a solid beginning in a state that is hardly the best prospect for Dr. Paul’s campaign. New Hampshire and Nevada primaries should be better. Dr. Paul got his relatively new message out in Iowa in all the mainstream media, as he was interviewed extensively. Congressman Paul spent the entire week campaigning tirelessly. Only Romney and Paul bought television advertising in the week preceding the Straw Poll. Carol Paul, Dr. Paul’s wife of over 50 years, was hospitalized for exhaustion Saturday, just before the Straw Poll opened.Ron Paul’s support visibly appeared larger as hundreds of out of state supporters trekked to Ames (smack in the middle of the Hawkeye state) to hold signs, eat Romney’s barbecue, and buttonhole Romney supporters, and share the vibe.

Because Ron Paul’s internet base has INTENSITY, Ron Paul’s competitive status was never at risk as his campaign is still developing its own unique momentum. Fifth was good enough.

Paul’s fifth place showing is the first sign in the voter marketplace that Ron Paul is not only an internet phenomenon, but that he can mobilize feet into voter booths. Further, Paul’s campaign demonstrated they can spend money in conventional politics and make some waves. Mainstream media coverage for Dr. Paul has soared in recent weeks.

Dr. Paul is the bottom line in the Straw Poll however. After Ron Paul’s fifth place showing, its all wreckage beyond him.

After promising to bow out if he did not come in first or second, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson received 1,039 votes for a 7.3% showing for a sixth place. Thompson’s bank account is empty, and Wisconsin is a neighbouring state. If he can’t do well in Iowa – and Tommy is a nice guy – he’s conceding defeat. He’ll announce his campaign is over in the next 48 hours.

The Straw Poll knocks out Thompson, who campaigned in all 109 counties. Tommy Thompson, who promised to stop raids on medical-cannabis patients if elected President, was Health Secretary for George Bush from 2000 – 2004.

Scratch #6 candidate.

Way down in votes at 7th position was stalking-horse candidate Fred Thompson, a TV actor and undistinguished one term Senator from Tennessee, with only 203 votes and 1.4% of the votes. Fred Thompson mingled in Iowa a few days this week but his 203 votes does him no favors. This is a dubious showing for a phantom candidate.

Ghouliani, as Ron Paul Revolutionaries have taken to referring to Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, received 183 votes for 1.3% of the vote. The Ghoul did not campaign or participate because these devout social conservatives would have ripped him to shreds so he didn’t run the gauntlet here. 183 votes of 14,320 cast is a poor showing. I think thats a sign that in the cornbelt and the south, Giuliani has some obstacles in this contest.

However, Fred Thompson is still testing the waters, is flush with millions in cash, and has a fan-base. Giuliani has $15 million in the bank.

US REP. Duncan Hunter, coming in ninth with 174 votes, 1.3% of those cast, did appallingly poor. Hunter is a Congressman from California’s 4th district and is a war hawk.

I have run for office numerous occasions and when I campaign in rural, farming, or small communities, I wear jeans, a clean working mans shirt, cowboy boots if I have them, and I get rid of slick, big city talk and behavior. When you campaign in the heartland, everyone is just regular folks. In resource towns and rural farming communities, no one owned a suit that I could tell. If I would have shown up in my Armani suit (which I wear for media and city appearances), I would have been treated as if I were from THE CITY or some place far away from heartland reality – and I would INSTANTLY lose any credibility with these people.

I could tell Duncan Hunter did not belong in Iowa. Slick suit everywhere he went. He obviously doesn’t hang around farmers much. He just wasn’t comfortable and he didn’t fit in. It was a crushing end to Hunter’s invisible campaign and he too will inevitably announce his withdrawl from the race later this week. Scratch #9.

John McCain in certain ways defines “walking wounded”. He looks dignified but stiff, uncomfortable, his facial skin stretched too tight over that skull. He’s broke, tearing through $13 million so far this year, with peanuts left in the bank ( perhaps only a million dollars), and his showing here shows a complete lack of connection with this kind of heartland audience. John McCain came in tenth with 101 votes. 07% of the votes cast.

This is awful for McCain. He did not officially campaign at Ames and thus did not participate in the convention-like atmosphere. He made no impact, has no supporters here, no campaign, no money. He is considered a has-been. Ames will further damage McCain’s ability to raise money.

Scratch #10 McCain. It won’t be immediately, but McCain will be out by November or December when he sees that he just won’t have the money to compete in the January – March primaries, which will require $5-$10 million minimum in the bank without bills by December 31.

A Illinois accountant named John Cox got 44 votes for .03% of the votes cast, sparing former “front-runner” McCain the extremely humilating close call of being “Dead” last at Ames.

Scratch John Cox, #11, later this summer.

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