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Tags: Ames Straw Poll

We’ve Been Warned: Some Won’t Survive Iowa!



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If your patience is waning, and you think you can’t stand one more discussion of who will win Iowa, be cautious — the state itself can be fatal, according to this headline and opening paragraph from Ken Rudin on NPR:

Not Everyone Will Survive Iowa

 Dec 12, 2011 — A change in the primary delegate rules may extend the battle for the Republican nomination into the spring. But, if history is a guide, some candidates may not survive the Iowa caucuses.

Hypothermia would be my bet.

Oh, wait, he didn’t mean literally.

But while there is reason to hope that the Republican contest next year may extend into the spring months, there is a near certainty that some of the candidates may be gone from the race soon after the Iowa caucus results are in on Jan. 3, just over three weeks from now.

Someone asked if I was available for an event on the afternoon of January 4, and I said that based on past history, I’ll probably be covering somebody’s campaign coming to an end.

Rudin writes, “If I were a betting man — and certainly not on the scale with Mitt Romney— I would think that the candidacies of both Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are the most precarious in Iowa. The two have probably put more hours into the state than any other Republican candidate. But neither is especially well-funded, neither is in double digits in the polls, and neither has gotten the kind of media air and ink time their rivals have. They also don’t have much going in New Hampshire (Jan. 10 primary), which makes Iowa that more crucial.”

Could the Ames Straw Poll winner end up not winning the Iowa caucus? That hasn’t happened since... 2008… and 1996… and 1988.

A reader wrote to me back in 2007, “As someone who worked on the [Phil] Gramm presidential campaign, I can say winning the Iowa staw poll doesn’t mean squat.  I know it happens every cycle — pundits and people who love politics inflate false events because there’s nothing else to do and then the people vote.  But, only one of those events matters.  (As I am sure you remember, Gramm tied Dole in the straw poll and then was rewarded with a fifth place finish in the actual voting.)”

Tags: Ames Straw Poll , Iowa , Michele Bachmann

Ames, Iowa: Not Exactly Epicenter of the National Unemployment Crisis



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We can expect quite a bit of talk about jobs in tonight’s debate and in the rhetoric leading up to Saturday’s straw poll in Ames. But Iowa has it relatively good compared to the rest of the country, with the 8th-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at 6 percent. The past year the state has “enjoyed” a very slow, gradual reduction from 6.2 percent unemployment to 6 percent.

All things considered, Ames is in not too bad shape, either, although it’s not been a good year overall:

The Ames Metropolitan Statistical Area reported a drop of 2,400 jobs in June. This drop was seasonally expected and contained to state government summer employment contraction (-2,700 jobs). This drop was meagerly offset by gains in local government and goods producing, adding 200 and 100 jobs, respectively. Since June last year Ames has shed 1,100 jobs. Losses were spread throughout service-providing industries, with private service-providing paring 800 jobs and government jobs contracting by 400.

This analysis puts the unemployment rate in Ames at 5.4 percent, a jump from the previous month’s 4.3 percent, a jump of roughly 400 people. In the past year, the local unemployment rate has ranged from 4.0 to 5.4 percent.

Nationally, the circumstances are much worse – 9.1 percent currently, ranging from 9.8 percent to 8.8 percent in the past year.

Tags: Ames Straw Poll , Unemployment

Are Either Tonight’s Debate or the Ames Straw Poll Really That Decisive?



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Over at the Des Moines Register, they’re convinced tonight’s debate could be a very big deal:

Just 36 hours after the debate, Iowans start to vote at the Iowa straw poll, where success hinges on self-motivated voters either hopping on a campaign bus at the crack of dawn or driving themselves across the state to Ames.

“It puts so much pressure on these candidates to perform well,” said Chuck Laudner, a former executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa. “A bad performance has the real chance of sinking their straw poll numbers.”

Or, if a sleeper candidate knocks it out of the ballpark and impresses the political junkies, Friday’s post-debate dissection could reap straw poll votes, he said.

Question: Which will sway more votes at the straw poll: Tonight’s debate performance? Or which candidate has the best free food?

By the way, some think that without Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin* or even Jon Huntsman in attendance, turnout for this year’s poll will be lower than the last one, which was merely 14,302. In 2007 Romney won with 4,516. Turnout for the 2008 Iowa GOP caucus itself was 119,118, and Mike Huckabee ended up beating Romney by more than 10,000 votes.

In other words, it’s quite possible what we’ll see this weekend is the preference of an unrepresentative sample of about 12 percent of Iowa Republican caucus-goers.

* As noted below, Palin is in Iowa, and not far from the straw poll site, but is not officially competing in the straw poll. We’ll have to see if Ames attendees write her in anyway.

Tags: Ames Straw Poll , Debate , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney

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