Bachmann, winner of GOP Iowa Straw Poll, won't necessarily turn straw into gold

Bachmann, winner of GOP Iowa Straw Poll, won't necessarily turn straw into gold

Ames : IA : USA | Aug 13, 2011 at 8:23 AM PDT
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Iowa Straw Poll 2011

Michele Bachmann triumphed as the presidential hopeful who has narrowly won the Republican 2011 Iowa Straw Poll today.

Just how important is today's Iowa Straw Poll anyway? While Rumpelstiltskin could turn straw into gold, some naysayers discredit this straw poll's importance--no matter who is the winner. But, is that not counter-intuitive in the face of some impressive Iowa Straw Poll first facts? Namely,

  • Thousands converged from across the state today to vote for their favorite GOP presidential candidate.
  • The event generates lots of publicity. Over 50% more media reps bearing credentials at this year's poll than in 2007.
  • In three of the five Ames Straw Poll events, the winner of the Ames Straw Poll also won the Iowa caucuses.

Since Iowa hosts the first presidential nominating caucus in January of the presidential election year, winning in Iowa can make a lasting, positive first impression on the nation. It builds campaign momentum and boosts both the winning candidate and supporters.

So how could the Iowa Straw Poll not be important?

  • The candidates pay people to attend the Straw Poll, thus calling the value of the event into question.
  • Iowa republicans haven't been great at predicting future winners of the GOP presidential nomination or election.
  • Not every Iowa Straw Poll winner goes on to capture the Iowa caucus.
  • The event dooms many GOP presidential hopefuls. So Straw Poll candidates may walk themselves into a campaign dead end.
  • The event this year has been "light" on candidate attendance.
  • Sarah Palin's appearance at the event this year has distracted attention from the Iowa Straw Poll to herself.
  • Rick Perry's official announcement of his presidential ambitions today did an end-run around the Iowa poll.

The straw poll is, by definition, a nonbinding indicator. It simply shows who Iowa republicans currently favor. The fairy tale character Rumplestiltskin celebrated himself in song and dance and thereby doomed himself. Similarly, banking on a win in an Iowa Straw Poll could fate a GOP presidential wannabe to ultimate presidential defeat.

This year's GOP poll had Bachmann squeaking by Ron Paul 4823 to 4671 with three other candidates racking up the following vote counts: Pawlenty 2293, Santorum 1657, and Cain 1456.

Time will tell whether Bachmann's victory will serve her well--or not.

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Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann talks to voters at the Iowa State Fair on Friday
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann talks to voters at the Iowa State Fair on Friday
Billie Greenwood is based in Davenport, Iowa, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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