The Ames Straw Poll In Iowa

Mitt Romney’s campaign has been crowing about Giuliani and McCain skipping the Aames Straw Poll in Iowa and it has been much discussed in the media. For example, from MSNBC,

“Yesterday, both the Giuliani and McCain campaigns announced they wouldn’t be participating in the Ames straw poll. The Des Moines Register: “No candidate in the straw poll’s nearly 30 year history has bypassed the event and won the caucuses.” But with three of the four front-runners out, this streak could be broken.

The New York Times sees the decision by Giuliani and McCain to skip the straw poll as having to do with the changing primary calendar. “Their decision was the clearest indication of how much the changing primary calendar is upending presidential politics this year, as candidates grapple with the prospect of huge primaries in crucial states like Florida on Jan. 29 and California, New York and Texas a week later.”

But don’t assume that the $3 million or so that Giuliani and McCain save from not competing is somehow helpful for the later states. (What exactly does $3 million buy in California? Not much.) This decision was not about the calendar as it was about not giving Romney an opportunity for a major win this August. Don’t over-read into this decision by both campaigns. Remember, Romney was spending endless amounts of money to win this straw poll.”

So, is this a big victory for Romney?

No.

Here’s the thing, there are two kinds of straw polls:

* You have the straw polls that are actually comprised of the same locals who are always around.

* You’ll have straw polls that are won by whoever pays to bus in the most supporters.

The Aames straw poll is the latter type of straw poll and thus, really doesn’t mean anything other than that Romney is willing to spend more money to bus in supporters than the other candidates.

MSNBC notes that saving 3 million dollars by skipping the straw poll won’t be helpful to the Giuliani and McCain campaign, which is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. 3 million dollars is one hell of a lot of money and in my book, there are a lot better uses for it than winning one straw poll in Iowa, especially since they turned the whole thing into a joke by just skipping it.

After all, if Rudy, McCain, and Fred aren’t participating, then what has Mitt won by participating? The right to crow a little at the price of throwing somewhere between 1-2 million dollars down the hole. To me, that doesn’t seem like a great bargain.

I consult for the Duncan Hunter campaign.

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