Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took Saturday’s Iowa Straw Poll, carrying 31% of the vote. Former AR Gov. Mike Huckabee followed with 18%, defeating Sen. Sam Brownback, who essentially bet the ranch on the straw poll to take only 15%. Rep. Tom Tancredo finished a respectable fourth, with nearly 14% of the vote.
Tom Tancredo – 13.7%
Ron Paul — 9.1%
Tommy Thompson – 7.3%
Fred Thompson – 1.4%
Rudy Giuliani – 1.3%
Duncan Hunter – 1.2%
John McCain – 1%
John Cox — 0.1%
What the results mean:
Mitth Romney: Romney did what he had to do. As expected, he won the Straw Poll. Some of the weaker candidates (more on them below) will likely drop out as a result of these results. Romney is the most likely beneficiary of their debartures.
John McCain: Even though he wasn’t participating, this comes as another blow to his campaign, if only a jab. Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani sat it out too, but both finished well ahead of him.
Rudy Giuliani: With Huckabee and Brownback finishing second and third, this could be good news for the Giuliani camp. Those results may be enough to keep both in the race. If they both stay in, that will maintain the divison among social conservatives and allow Rudy to continue to rely on a split right, an important aspect of his chances.
Fred Thompson: He’s not in the race yet, but he still outpolled Giuliani and McCain. Its a symbolic boon more than anything, but a boon nonetheless.
Mike Huckabee: This finished his slow plod to the top of the second tier. This likely means that he’s ahead of Brownback for good. If Brownback decides to call it quits having lost this important battle, the Huckabee campaign would be the beneficiary should Brownback choose to support those whose ideology most closely matches his own. Such a combination of forces would be formidable, especially in Iowa.
Sam Brownback: This is a loss, no doubt about it. Brownback put significant resources into finishing second in the straw poll but fell short. Many think that Brownback has really been running for 2012. If thats true, he may well stick around until the actual caucuses. If not, look for him to close up shop by the end of the month.
Tom Tancredo: Even Tancredo has recently recognized that he is running a statement candidacy rather than an actual Presidential race. With that in mind, a fourth place finish does scream that 13% of Iowa Straw Poll participants consider a tough stance on immigration the most important thing about a Presidential candidate. This finish probably gives him a boost as he travels across the country telling Americans about their Congressmens’ weakness on immigration.
Ron Paul: Speaking of statement candidacies, Rep. Paul’s fifth place finish says that an anti-war stance is a deathblow to any Republican candidate. On domestic issues, Rep. Paul probably mirrors the conservative/libertarian philosophy more closely than any candidate in either party. Even so, a fifth place finish won’t springboard him into contention for the nomination. He has the money to continue and brings a lot to the debates, so he’ll probably stick around a while.
Tommy Thompson: He never belonged in the race. Now he knows that. He’ll be out of the race within a week. Hopefully now he’s done with this silly Presidential business and will run for something in Wisconsin in the future.
Duncan Hunter: He’s a solid conservative, but even with some Congressional endorsements, he just never caught fire. It’s time to call it a quits, and he’ll probably do so within a few days. Hunter for Senate in 2010 anyone?
John Cox: Who?