camcarlson

miscellaneous commentary

Previewing the 2012 election, part 3

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Michele Bachmann won yesterday’s straw poll, edging out Ron Paul by less than a percentage point. No matter: she will receive all the headlines and Paul will remain the old crank who appeals to college kids and wants to abolish the Federal Reserve. Bachmann is now Mitt Romney’s direct competition for the GOP’s frontrunner for the 2012 presidential nominee, along with Rick Perry, who just entered the race yesterday.

(Sarah Palin is still tip-toeing around a decision to run. The moment she says she isn’t, her ridiculously extended 15 minutes of fame are over. And she knows that… which is why she isn’t announcing a decision just yet.)

The Iowa GOP has held a straw poll six times since 1979. In the past five polls, the winner went on to win the Iowa caucus three times, the party’s presidential nomination twice, and the presidency once (dubya in 2000). Romney won the 2007 straw poll, while Mike Huckabee won the 2008 caucus, John McCain won the nomination and Obama the presidency. In a nutshell, straw poll victories are only good for additional publicity and increased fundraising going into the caucus.

But I am still disappointed. I was hoping the rabid Iowa GOP voters would have some common sense and send Michele back to Minnesota where she belongs. Now she’s going to haunt my fair state for an additional five months.

Romney chose to skip the straw poll this year, much like how McCain skipped it in 2007. Romney still garnered about 3% of the vote this year, better than McCain’s 0.7% in 2007, but worse than Perry’s 4.3% showing as a write-in candidate.

Tim Palwenty’s feeble campaign came to an end with a distant third-place finish. Rick Santorum and Herman Cain finished fourth and fifth, respectively, and I suspect they will stay in until the caucus. Newt Gingrich finished eighth, but he craves attention, so who knows if he’ll stay or go.

Jon Huntsman, the only real moderate candidate with a prayer’s chance against Obama next year, finished with less than half a percentage point. There is no hope for moderates in today’s Republican Party.

I can now look forward to five more months of news stories about candidates kissing babies, eating at small town diners, shouting rehearsed slogans at crowds… and let’s not forget the annoying robo-calls to my cell phone. Thank god I don’t have television — I don’t have to endure the deluge of campaign commercials.

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