Republican Straw Poll
The Deal: Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachman narrowly won the Ames Straw Poll, considered to be an early indicator in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Earlier the same day, Texas Governor Rick Perry formally announced his candidacy. Despite finishing in a close second Texas Congressman Ron Paul is not considered by experts to be a viable candidate. As an advocate of minimalist federal government and a former Libertarian candidate, Paul is seen by many as too radical to win in a general election. After Ames, experts have narrowed the race to just three candidates: Michele Bachman, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Despite finishing seventh in the Straw Poll, Romney is still considered the front-runner because of his fundraising and organization advantage. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, famous for his role in impeaching President Clinton, finished an extremely disappointing 8th. (For more on Republican candidates, see this post).
-Increasing fiscal and social conservatism (Tea Party movement)
-The Ames Straw Poll is the first test for Republican candidates and helps to weed out those that don’t have a shot at securing the nomination (For more on Straw Polls, see this post).
-Ames is hosted in Iowa, where the first of caucus will be held. (A caucus is a small primary, with slightly different procedures.) The important thing is that Iowa is the first in the nation and the winner often goes to on to secure the nomination.
-Sarah Palin. She did not appear on the Straw Poll ballot and she hasn’t declared a candidacy for the nomination but yet she spent the weekend in Iowa speaking to supporters. Her entrance into the race could change everything.
-With the continuing recession and the recent downgrade of U.S. credit President Obama is in a tenuous position. Whatever candidate wins the Republican nomination will have, considering the party’s strong showing in the mid-term elections, at least a decent shot at winning.
-Michele Bachman is a Tea Party darling. Though the Straw Poll is just an early indicator the fact that such a radical candidate could win is indicative of the power of the Tea Party movement and the impact that it could have on the 2012 election.
-Despite Bachman’s extremely conservative social views (most notably her belief in ‘wifely submission to a husband’) she won the Straw Poll. This may indicate that the 2012 race will be about more than the economy and creating jobs and that Obama’s reversal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Also, his sketchy stance on gay marriage could hurt him more than he thought.