On Saturday Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota scored a victory in the Ames Straw Poll, a win that will provide her with some all-important momentum in the months between the Straw Poll and the Iowa Caucuses.
Rep. Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll with 4,823 votes, narrowly beating Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who garnered 4,671 votes. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty placed a distant third with 2,293, and given how Pawlenty had focused all of his campaign’s efforts in Iowa, his third-place finish has to be considered a disappointment.
Behind the top three finishers, here’s the order of finish: former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum finished fourth with 1,567 votes, businessman Herman Cain finished fifth with 1,456, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who only announced his presidential candidacy the day of the Ames Straw Poll, finished sixth with 718 votes. Rounding out the field was former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has virtually ignored Iowa thus far, with 567 votes to finish seventh, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 385 votes to finish eighth, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman with 69 votes to finish ninth, and Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter with 35 votes to finish tenth and last.
So what does Rep. Bachmann’s win in the Ames Straw Poll really mean? As I mentioned earlier, her victory will certainly give her some momentum in the months between now and the Iowa Caucuses, but a look at the past winners of the Ames Straw Poll seems to indicate that a win in the Straw Poll really doesn’t make much of a difference in the larger Republican presidential race.
Ames Straw Poll Winners, 1979 to 2007
- 1979 – George H.W. Bush
- 1987 – Pat Robertson
- 1995 – Bob Dole & Phil Gramm
- 1999 – George W. Bush
- 2007 – Mitt Romney
As you can see, only two of the six previous winners of the Ames Straw Poll went on to secure the Republican presidential nomination (Bob Dole & George W. Bush), and only one of the six (GWB) went on to actually become president. I’m betting that the official entry of Texas Governor Rick Perry into the Republican presidential race will dampen whatever momentum Michele Bachmann may have gotten with her win in the Ames Straw Poll, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Perry end up winning the Iowa Caucuses while emerging as the strongest challenger to GOP “frontrunner” Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.