Straw Poll Results Are In

Last night ballots were cast in what is widely seen as a dry run for the Iowa GOP primary, the Ames Straw Poll, and there’s a little expected, a little unexpected, and the Republican field should be getting one short in the very near future.

While no one should be shocked that Governor Mitt Romney came out the clear winner, the big news appears to be the fact that Governor Mike Huckabee showed a strong second place.  This despite having the strong organization in the early voting state like Mitt Romney.

Indeed I’m now forced to recall a statement from Huckabee some months back.  When asked by a reporter about his lack of organization in early states, Huckabee flashed his Kevin Spacey-esque smile and said he was doing it the old fashion way, “winning one vote at a time”.  Apparently that philosophy is working.

We see also in the numbers the impact of not significantly courting the state have had on the other top tier candidates; Giuliani, McCain, and even Fred Thompson all rounding out the last half of the pack.

Even behind Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, who has said that he will “reassess” his campaign should he fail to make it in the top two.  He finished sixth with just over seven percent of the vote which means that it will be highly shocking if he doesn’t announce exit from the campaign early this week.

Other things of note, despite a lack of press coverage outside of debates, Ron Paul placed surprisingly well at fifth.  This combined with the imminent exodus of Tommy Thompson may breathe some new life into the campaign for the man who has developed a significant and impassioned internet following.

Also, I think it’s important to note how low non-candidate Fred Thompson placed, finishing even lower than the almost non-existant Tommy Thompson at seventh.  The man who months ago was being lauded by a slew of conservatives as the savior of the field, the next Ronald Reagan, and the presumptive frontrunner did not back this up with performance at voting booths here.  I think this can be an even further indicator that excitement over the former Law & Order star is starting to wane.

But the X-Factor lies with the “Mayor” Rudy Giuliani.  The frontrunner of the race announced awhile ago that he would not partake in the straw poll, and his placing in the contest seems to reflect his snubbing of Iowa.

However at least one question remains.  Does Rudy’s snubbing of the event change the dynamics and significance of this early weather vane in the primary season?  With only 1-2% of the vote, it’s hard to make a case that there is a large portion of support sans the “Mayor’s” presence.  But we will never know how different the make up would be had he chosen to participate.

As a result, it would be folly to make any presumptuous guesses as to how greatly this will bolster Romney’s campaign.  So while the expected did happen, I think more important are the unexpecteds; Huckabee’s and Paul’s surprisingly good performance, and Fred Thompson’s poor performance.

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