Monday, August 15, 2011

Ames Straw Poll" Lessons from History

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  So goes the Ames Straw Poll.  Does most recent winner Michelle Bachmann have a real chance at winning the top spot on the GOP national ticket?  I think not.

Take a look at the winners and losers in the Ames Straw Poll and you’ll get some food for thought about the 2012 GOP national ticket.
In 1979, the first poll pitted George H. W. Bush against Ronald Reagan. Bush won the Straw Poll but Reagan won the Republican Nominee. Both Bush and Reagan were legitimate possibilities for the national ticket.

In 1983, no straw poll was conducted due to overwhelming GOP support for Reagan’s reelection.

In 1987 Pat Robinson won at Ames, a candidate with no chance of winning the nomination. Bob Dole followed in the #2 position, a legitimate contender.  The Straw Poll coupled one potential winner, Dole, the ultimate Republican Nominee, with an obvious loser, Robinson.
In 1995, Bob Dole and Phil Gramm tied in the poll, both legitimate contenders for the GOP national nomination. George H. W. Bush was the Republican Nominee.
In 1999, George H. W. Bush got the vote of confidence from the Ames Straw Poll, while Steve Forbes placed second. Once again, the Poll singled out two legitimate viable candidates. George H. W. Bush was the Republican Nominee.

In 2007, Mitt Romney won, closely followed by Mike Huckabee.  Both were realistic candidates who could have won nationally. John McCain was the Republican Nominee.
In 2011, the Ames Straw Poll saluted Tea Party “leader” Michelle Bachmann as winner, closely followed by Libertarian Ron Paul. Bachmann lead a field of candidates with no real possibility of winning nationally. My guess is that Bachmann will not be the Republican Nominee.

I think Ames got it wrong this time. Oddly enough, the GOP is left with Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, both of whom did not participate in the Ames Straw Poll, a new tactic for high profile candidates.  It looks like we’ll revisit a duel reminiscent of the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama challenge during the last presidential cycle.

Wonder what the future holds for Iowa and the Ames Straw Poll?
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