Political Animal


August 13, 2011 7:00 PM Bachmann wins Ames Straw Poll

By Steve Benen

Here are the official results of the Ames Straw Poll, according to a CNN report:

1. Michele Bachmann: 4823 votes
2. Ron Paul: 4671
3. Tim Pawlenty: 2293
4. Rick Santorum: 1657
5. Herman Cain: 1456
6. Mitt Romney: 567
7. Newt Gingrich: 385
8. Jon Huntsman 69
9. Thaddeus McCotter: 35

It’s worth noting that while the Romney campaign made little effort to compete, his name was on the ballot — and he trailed Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who had 718 write-in votes.

If there’s any real news out of this — other than the fact that Bachmann has solidified her position as the apparent Iowa frontrunner — it’s probably Pawlenty’s weak showing. A third-place finish isn’t too big a surprise, but the fact that he garnered less than half of Bachmann’s total today probably won’t help the perceptions that he’s struggling badly.

Chris Cillizza said Pawlenty’s underwhelming showing “will raise major questions about his ability to remain a viable candidate as the race moves forward.” That may seem excessive, but once those media-driven perceptions become commonplace, it’s hard for a candidate to turn the tide.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Grumpy on August 13, 2011 7:23 PM:

    And the only time the Iowa Straw Poll winner went on to win the presidency was... 1999, when George W. Bush was already the frontrunner.

    Heck, the only other GOP nominee to come out of the Ames poll was Bob Dole, and he tied with Phil Gramm!

  • delNorte on August 13, 2011 7:25 PM:

    So, is this the TS Eliot "Hollow Men" straw poll:

    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

    If so, then, yes, I agree, Michelle Bachmann is the clear winner.

  • Stuart on August 13, 2011 7:42 PM:

    Paul is as big a favorite for the caucuses as Bachmann. Perry will take votes from the Queen of Crazy but not from Paul.

  • Okie on August 13, 2011 8:08 PM:

    The three supposed "adults" in the race (Romney, Pawlenty and Huntsman) all did poorly. The eventual nominee is sure to be from the batshitcrazy wing of the party.

    Should be an easy win for Obama. Or else, disaster for America.

  • Old Uncle Dave on August 13, 2011 8:14 PM:

    Bachmann got 29% of the votes in a straw poll of 16,500 people in flyover country and this somehow shows her strength and makes her a credible candidate.

    What a country!

  • samsa on August 13, 2011 8:17 PM:

    Should be an easy win for Obama. Or else, disaster for America.

    Easy win might be a disaster as well, since it will convince him further that governing with no conviction, leading with no principles, giving in to the demands of your opponents even before the negotiations begin, not fighting with your opponents even if when you know that their victory might lead to disaster for everyone, and sacrificing your base at the altar of the false God of bipartisanship are all good strategies.

    Easy win for Obama might mean the end of SS and Medicare as we know it.

  • Grumpy on August 13, 2011 8:22 PM:

    P.S. If I had seen the post immediately before this, I wouldn't have offered my redundant comment.

  • Art Hackett on August 13, 2011 8:30 PM:

    In its own way the straw poll makes sense in Iowa since it's a test of one on one, get them to the meeting on time organizational ability, not unlike the caucuses which will be here in February (or December depending on whether or not someone else jumps the gate.) In a primary state the straw poll wouldn't mean anything. In Iowa it means a little.

  • bob h on August 13, 2011 8:59 PM:

    This is the best possible news for Obama and Democrats. The longer she is in this, the more damage she does to the Reublican image.

  • The Oracle on August 13, 2011 9:04 PM:

    Sooo, how did "Rick Parry" do?

    I guess I'll have to wait for Stephen Colbert's report on this.

  • Michael on August 13, 2011 9:29 PM:

    No, his 718 write in votes did better than romney, despite romney campaigning for it.

  • Michael on August 13, 2011 9:31 PM:

    erp, parry , my bad :)

  • Michael on August 13, 2011 9:33 PM:

    Problem is, they will probably count parry as perry votes...

  • r on August 13, 2011 9:55 PM:

    What Oracle said: how did Parry do??

  • Texas Aggie on August 13, 2011 9:59 PM:

    The other Rick, Goodhair, got roughly a seventh of Bachmann's count and even though it was a write in, there were people there pushing for him, so the idea of writing him in was on people's minds. Goodhair and Bachmann are fighting for the same base, while the others are after the nonDominionist part of the TP's. For the moment it appears that Bachmann has their votes, but I wonder if they will actually go with a woman, submission and all that, when there is a man, image of god and all that, running on the same platform. I predict that the Bible Belt will go for Goodhair, but I wonder if that is enough to get the nomination. I don't know.

  • T2 on August 13, 2011 10:00 PM:

    The real story: Ron Paul was less than 1 point behind Bachmann. In my book thats as good as a win for Paul. Just consider what the headline would have been if Paul had had 1 point more votes. Bachmann put everything into this.......and barely beat a guy who wants to end the Irac/Afghan Wars and the War on Drugs, and put us on the Gold Standard.

  • T2 on August 13, 2011 10:08 PM:

    I guess I should have also said.........Paul sounds pretty good, except for the gold thing.

  • Kenneth D. Franks on August 13, 2011 10:28 PM:

    As a former Democratic candidate for state representative that lost to a Republican that has been on Texas Monthly's Top 10 Worst Legislators for two sessions in a row I am now blogging about Texas politics. I have around 150 posts with links about Rick Perry and some of them might be informative if you are interested in a Texas Democrat's perspective about Perry. http://kennethdfranks.blogspot.com/

  • Michael on August 13, 2011 10:29 PM:

    That isn't the only, except for...

  • nk007 on August 13, 2011 11:05 PM:


    Why do you people keep peddling nonsense!. We know you hate President Obama, but do you have to blatantly lie about his policies? What evidence do you have that Obma will end SS and medicare? I am just sick of the lies from the so called leftist who hate Obama. And you want us to believe that you are a progressive? You are all cowards! Why not come out cleanly and declare your support for the teabaggers?

  • Jon on August 13, 2011 11:13 PM:

    The great importance of the Ames straw poll is mostly its essential role in filling an otherwise deserted news horizon with something, anything, for the talking heads to ramble on about.

  • TCinLA on August 13, 2011 11:15 PM:

    From the Borowitz Report:


    Calling the results of today's Iowa straw poll “alarming,” Standard and Poor’s took the unprecedented action of downgrading Iowa’s IQ.

    While the effects of such an extraordinary measure are hard to predict, experts say the IQ downgrade could result in Iowans having difficulty completing sentences or operating a television remote.

    “This downgrade would be very upsetting to Republicans in Iowa,” said an S & P spokesman. “Fortunately, there’s no way they’ll understand it.”

    The winner in the straw poll, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), gave a rousing victory speech that was simulcast in English across the state.

    But there may be tough sledding ahead for Rep. Bachmann, as a new poll shows her losing support to Texas Governor Rick Perry among voters who describe themselves as morons.

    Gov. Perry kicked off his presidential campaign today in South Carolina, unveiling a new stump speech in which he promised to repeal the twentieth century.

  • MsJoanne on August 13, 2011 11:23 PM:

    Paul wants to end public education, the post office, Medicare and social security...for starters. Yeah, Ron Paul is a fucking prince because he wants to end the war.

    T-Paw is gonna be vying for veep for Mittens, maybe Perry. Bachmann would never have him.

  • samsa on August 13, 2011 11:25 PM:


    My statement was merely that if Obama's compromising ways are rewarded by an easy win, he will be more prone to compromise with the opposite side whose goal is to end medicare and SS, and, therefore, the SS and medicare could be transformed in unexpected ways possibly to render them unrecognizable as the programs that we now understand them to be.

    You attribute a measure of definitiveness to my statement that is not there.

  • c4Logic on August 13, 2011 11:31 PM:

    Ron Paul is just as crazy as Bachman--and anyone who hold up Ayn Rand as his guiding light is a fairly dim bulb who has never been exposed to very many ideas. I would say that stupidity is the big winner here. I should not be suprized, looking at all the other stupid things the majority has made successful, from WWF to NASCAR to Dancing with the Stars--but the popularity of a nutcase like Bachman and Paul is revealing a lot about my fellow Americans that I never realized--that they are simply not smart enough or blessed with enough discriminative wisdom for democracy to ever succeed in America.

  • Danny on August 13, 2011 11:56 PM:


    Same old consern trolling and up-is-downism from the Emobagger/Operation Chaos crowd. This time the "concern" is that if democrats and Obama win to easily then they will govern to far to the right. Yeah, right that's how the world works honey.

    In case you didnt notice, honey, this latest shit sandwich of a debt ceiling deal came about because Repubs won +7, +70 in congress and used their new power to hold us all hostage. Doesnt look like the problem was democrats winning to big, looks like the problem was democrats getting their asses to the voting booth Nov 2, 2010.

    Either you guys are plain idiots, or you're trying to take us down and make us loose.

  • Joe Friday on August 14, 2011 12:06 AM:

    Perry in South Carolina:

    "Since June of 2009, Texas is responsible for more than 40% of all of the new jobs created in America"

    He forgot to mention they were LOW-WAGE NO-HEALTHCARE jobs.

    Yepper, he's the man that will do for America what he's done for Texas.

    YEEHAW !

  • jcricket on August 14, 2011 12:27 AM:

    Employment growth in Texas hasn't created enough well-paid positions or improved access to health care, said Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a nonprofit group in Austin that advocates for low-income Texans.

    "We have the highest percentage of low-wage jobs and we are first in the number of uninsured," McCown said by telephone yesterday. "And because of Texas's regressive tax system, low- wage earners here pay the fifth highest wage taxes in the country."


  • mudwall jackson on August 14, 2011 1:11 AM:

    "Paul sounds pretty good, except for the gold thing."

    that alone qualifies him as crazy. then of course there's rand ...

  • 2Manchu on August 14, 2011 2:13 AM:

    Who's Thaddeus McCotter?

    Sounds like someone from Bloom County.

  • rip on August 14, 2011 3:22 AM:

    The 40% of all new jobs is a bullshit number. Some states have had a net loss in the last two years, some a net gain. The Federal number is the total of all these.

    To clarify: If state A loses 90K jobs, state B gains 100K jobs, and state C gains 10K jobs, between the three it is a net gain of 20K, but that doesn't mean that state C gained half of all new jobs.

    Perry and the Republicans count on the innumeracy of the american public, and worse, the American press to not understand the difference.

    In addition, from what I've been able to find, 40% of the new jobs created in TX since June 2009 are minimum wage, and about 20% are government jobs ( at a time when most states are shedding government workers).

  • Anonymous on August 14, 2011 7:17 AM:

    Perry jobs numbers come from two factors:

    1) The Energy industry has been going gangbusters-Oil and Gas companies have been having records profits over the past 5 years.
    2) He has deregulated businesses and lowered taxes to create a very good "business environment". If you want to file a complaint with the OAG, try calling them to ask questions. It will literally take you weeks.

    The only reason why he has been able to win is because there have always been fake Democratic candidates to split the vote. Last time, one of the fake Democrats was Karl Rove's mother. As a result Perry won with 39% of the vote.

  • FRP on August 14, 2011 8:32 AM:

    Good to know about the fake democrats in Wisconsin and Texas .
    May the force be with Mr Benen and his electric supply .

  • Sean Scallon on August 14, 2011 8:44 AM:

    You are as bad as Chris Matthews. You can't change the meaning of an event when you don't like the results. Once again it shows it is impossible for pundits or any observers of politics to keep their personal biases out of their reporting or analysis. Either it means something or it doesn't and with 700 reporters in tow plus nearly 17,000 actual votes, what else is going on on the campaign trial which is a true measure of status of the candidates, a debate? Fundraising among millionares?

    "Since the event began in 1979, the candidate winning the Iowa caucus has placed first or second in the straw poll every time.

    Ergo, Ron Paul is going to be a major player in Iowa Caucuses and beyond. He is hardly a drugstore cowboy like Phil Gramm nor is he a jerk.

    Just consider this: Ron Paul basically told Republicans they may very well have to live with the fact Iran is going to build a nuke (although the Israelis may have something to say about this) whether we like or not and we will be no more successful in stopping them than George Bush II was in stopping North Korea from getting a bomb. And yet Ron Paul won the fourth largest total of votes in straw poll history.

    Ron Paul and nearly won the straw poll, something Barak Obama may want to pay attention to. If some Leftists want their "primary challenge" to Obama, maybe they should help Ron Paul win the GOP nomination.

  • Holmes on August 14, 2011 9:01 AM:

    T-Paw just dropped out.

  • FRP on August 14, 2011 9:03 AM:

    There are a devoted core of enthusiasts who fervently , with religious style ardor , push the candidacy of Representative Paul .
    Just because they are willing to burn down he house doesn't make them good people . In fact I could point out that the sort of ardor exhibited by these marginal thinkers is disdained by healthy , no less passionate , educated both in school and out , being of sound , and well rounded mind people , finding the simplistic childlike solutions offered by the idiotic Paul's utterings unsatisfying .
    Thank you

  • Sean Scallon on August 14, 2011 10:11 AM:

    "finding the simplistic childlike solutions offered by the idiotic Paul's utterings unsatisfying"

    If killing little kids in Afghanistan and Pakistan and now Libya is the measure of sophistication and adult behavior in your world, I'll take being childish any day of the week.

    It will be fun watching the discomfort on the Left given how Paul challenges your hypocrisy on foreign policy.

  • tamiasmin on August 14, 2011 5:17 PM:

    Hey, what do those 35 McCotter voters know that the rest of us don't know?