Wow - lots happening so let's get down to business...
The traditional (since 1979) Ames IA Straw Poll was a resounding victory for Michele Bachmann cementing her as a legit top-tier candidate for the Republican nomination. She has excited the party grassroots and is the real deal, at least in Iowa, although I suspect that she will have more trouble in NH as her socially conservative supporters do not hold the sway in NH as they do in Iowa. But yesterday was a triumph of her organization and message to Iowa Republicans. Charisma matters!
Ron Paul also did well (as expected) with a second place finish as the Paulists were out in force.
However, don't look for him to go very far once the primaries begin next year. More on this in a later post.
Tim Pawlenty came in a distant third after sinking much money and political capital into the Ames poll and decided to withdraw from the race today as a result of his poor showing. The effects of the invisible primary are clear - T-Paw's fundraising was apt to disappear as contributors generally want to wager on a candidate who shows some likelihood of doing well. Good bye Governor Pawlenty- you looked great on paper, but just didn't have the organization and frankly the passion necessary for a run like this. Ironically, he would probably be a strong general election candidate as he is a moderate and would have appealed to suburban independents.
Mitt Romney wisely decided not to openly participate in Ames and benefited by not having high expectations. Iowa has not been kind to Mitt in the past and methinks he has his focus on NH anyway. Buy he now has a new worry (hint: it involves a cowboy hat)
This week's other big story was Gov. Rick Perry of Texas throwing his ten gallon hat into the fray. He brings lot of assets and liabilities; much more on him in my next posting.
The Prof is going to see Perry speak in NH next week and will be able to relate an up-close assessment on his strategy before genuine NH voters.