The Dog That Didn’t Bark

As expected Mitt Romney has come out the winner in the Republican straw poll that garnered a significantly lower turnout than it did in 1999:

Ames, Ia. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney emerged on top at Iowa GOP’s straw poll Saturday in Ames.

The win boosted the former Massachusetts governor’s standing as the party’s frontrunner in Iowa, although attendance at this first show of Iowa campaign strength appeared to fall short of expectations.

Huckabee’s second place finish and Sam Brownback’s third place finish will probably shore up their unlikely campaigns and, if we’re lucky, the poor finishes of Tommy Thompson and Duncan Hunter will provide the coup de grace to their impossible ones. IMO the contest for support from the regular Republican leadership is between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. Has anyone done a study of their campaign staff and announced support for hints on how this is coming along?

All that Romney had to do for the straw poll was to keep from falling on his face and he’s accomplished that much. I continue to believe that the party leadership will coalesce behind Romney. Not that that’s a good thing. IMO Romney is a dolt and we’ve had enough of that for the last 7 years.

3 comments… add one
  • I think 31% revealed a real weakness in Romney. He had no first tier opponent. He had all the money in the world. Iowa should be his kind of state. And 69% of the Ames voters decided they’d cast their vote for various guys with no real chance of being president.

    He’s a long way from closing the deal. And I’ll bet you, since the Romney people were publicly content beforehand with the idea of hitting a third or so, that their internal number was much higher. I bet they were hoping for 40%. I’m betting they felt a frisson of worry at these numbers.

  • I think the low turnout is even more interesting. The explanation being given is the absence of other first-tier candidates but I’m thinking there are other explanation, too, including demoralization of Republicans and a drift away from the Republican Party.

    Tancredo’s relatively high result (for a loon) is concerning, too. I think there’s a lot of anger about illegal Mexican immigration out there. It’s quite a big issue in Iowa—check what’s happened in the meatpacking industry there over the last 25 years.

  • Yeah, I just went back and looked at 1999. The overall vote was down something like 40%.

    In 1999 Bush got the same 31% Mitt got this time, but he had Steve Forbes, Elizabeth Dole and Lamar Alexander in the race (McCain sat it out then, too.) In that case Bush had several candidates bringing major cash and organization into the deal.

    Support for Romney feels thin and squishy to me. He may still be the guy, though. The GOP is looking for a savior. Question is, will they find one, or are they stuck with this field.

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