It took less votes to win the straw poll than to win a state
representative seat. That's how "meaningful" the event was.
--- In email@example.com
, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
> Romney wins, Huckabee in 2nd
> THOMAS BEAUMONT AND JENNIFER JACOBS
> REGISTER STAFF WRITERS
> August 11, 2007
> Ames, Ia. Republican presidential candidate Mitt
> Romney emerged on top at Iowa GOP's straw poll
> Saturday in Ames.
> The win boosted the former Massachusetts governor's
> standing as the party's frontrunner in Iowa, although
> attendance at this first show of Iowa campaign
> strength appeared to fall short of expectations.
> Candidate Votes Pct.
> 1. Mitt Romney 4,516 31.6%
> 2. Mike Huckabee 2,587 18.1%
> 3. Sam Brownback 2,192 15.3%
> 4. Tom Tancredo 1,960 13.7%
> 5. Ron Paul 1,305 9.1%
> 6. Tommy Thompson 1,039 7.3%
> 7. Fred Thompson 203 1.4%
> 8. Rudy Giuliani 183 1.3%
> 9. Duncan Hunter 174 1.2%
> 10. John McCain 101 0.7%
> 11. John Cox 41 0.3%
> Romney, who heavily outspent his opponents preparing
> for the fundraising event, received 4,516 votes or
> 31.6 percent.
> Roughly 30,000 to 33,000 Republicans attended the
> state party fundraiser on the Iowa State University
> campus, short of organizers' goal of exceeding the
> crowd of 38,000 who attended the most recent straw
> poll in 1999.
> A factor in the lower turnout was the absence of some
> of the field's better-known candidates former New
> York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain of
> Arizona, and likely candidate Fred Thompson, a former
> U.S. senator from Tennessee.
> Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had said his
> campaign's future depended on a strong showing in
> Ames. He finished in second place, with 2,587 votes or
> 18.1 percent. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas placed
> third with 2,192 votes, 15.3 percent after campaigning
> aggressively to be the choice of the Iowa GOP's
> influential social conservatives.
> "Obviously this was an incredible day and victory for
> us," Huckabee said. "What happened for us today was
> Huckabee said he and his campaign staff had been
> saying they had momentum and it proved true.
> "We overperformed," he said. "The bigger story is we
> did it with not a dime of paid advertising."
> He said he hopes all the people who promised they'd
> get behind him "if he got traction" will now step
> Meanwhile, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who
> said he would quit the race if he finished worse than
> second place, finished sixth with 1,039 votes or 7.3
> Thompson could exit the race as early as Sunday.
> "Clearly it'll be difficult for the campaign to
> continue," said Thompson's Iowa adviser, Steve Grubbs.
> Grubbs said Thompson will likely go to church Sunday,
> like he always does, and contemplate his future. An
> announcement will come later Sunday or Monday, his
> aide said.
> Voting machine difficulties delayed the announcement
> of the vote totals. About 1,500 ballots needed to be
> recounted, said Mary Tiffany, a spokeswoman for
> Republican Party of Iowa.
> Two machines caused the problem, said State Auditor
> David Vaudt. "What likely happened is someone
> submitted their ballot too quickly after the other,"
> he said. The ballots from those machines were hand
> counted, then re-fed into the system to recalculate
> the vote. A campaign poll-watcher said in one
> instance, a black box contained 500 paper ballots but
> the machine's memory said it had scanned in 498.
> Romney, the leader in recent Iowa polls, had said a
> victory in Ames would ensure his place in his party's
> top tier nationally. He described himself Saturday as
> the candidate of change that he argued the party
> requires in order to win in 2008.
> "Change begins in Iowa and change begins today,"
> Romney told more than 10,000 Republican activists
> during his speech at Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum. "If
> there's ever been a time we need to see a change in
> Iowa, it's now."
> U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, who had banked much his
> campaign on a strong straw poll showing, said the
> results were his "ticket to the caucuses" and pledged
> to continue the race.
> "We're still in this race, we're still going to move
> aggressively forward," Brownback told a crowd of 50 in
> his tent. "We've separated ourselves from the rest of
> the field."
> Brownback said his campaign, which has not yet used
> televised ads, planned to begin buying air time.
> Romney, Brownback, Huckabee and Thompson were among
> eight candidates to attend the high-profile political
> festival that marks the end of the first round of the
> campaign for Iowa's leadoff GOP nominating caucuses.
> The straw poll votes are nonbinding, and voters are
> free to choose another candidate in the official Iowa
> Giuliani's and McCain's decisions in June to skip the
> event altered the straw poll's role. Typically seen as
> a potential first measure of candidate strength in the
> field at large, this year's event was more of an
> opportunity for a second-tier candidate to emerge.
> Candidates also attending were U.S. Reps. Duncan
> Hunter of California, Ron Paul of Texas and Tom
> Tancredo of Colorado, as well as Chicago businessman
> John Cox.
> Brownback had sparred with Romney in the weeks leading
> up to Saturday, challenging Romney's commitment to
> opposing abortion rights, a key issue to Republican
> stalwarts in Iowa. Brownback, who opposes abortion
> rights, had been conducting a telephone campaign
> attacking Romney on his abortion position and other
> "We win when we stand on principles and do not abandon
> them," Brownback said in an indirect reference to his
> criticism of Romney, who supported abortion rights
> until after his election to governor in 2002.
> The event was expected to raise roughly $1 million for
> the Iowa Republican Party, partly through sales of the
> $35 tickets, but more through rental fees the
> candidates and interest groups paid to set up tents
> around Hilton Coliseum.
> Participating candidates viewed the event as a
> practice run for mobilizing their Iowa organizations,
> a priority in the organization-heavy caucuses,
> scheduled to launch the 2008 nominating contests in
> Romney, Brownback and Huckabee had rented hundreds of
> tour buses to deliver their supporters to the grounds
> around Hilton Coliseum.
> The campaigns bought up blocs of thousands of tickets
> and handed them out to their supporters, with more
> than just hope that they would vote for them at voting
> stations in Hilton Coliseum and nearby buildings.
> Romney's campaign aides had asked people who received
> a ticket from them to sign a pledge to vote for the
> candidate, which annoyed at least one family. Voting
> generally went smoothly, although the sweltering day's
> high humidity was a factor in some ballots sticking
> together, which caused marginal delays, party
> officials said.
> The grounds around the coliseum were transformed by
> mid-morning into a scale model of the Iowa State Fair,
> going on 40 miles south in Des Moines. A Ferris wheel
> sponsored by FairTax, a group promoting tax reform,
> spun while Des Moines rock band The Nadas jammed on a
> stage set up in Romney's compound outside Hilton
> Hundreds of attendees streamed onto the grounds as
> buses from all over the state unloaded.
> With roughly 50 voting machines set up in sites in
> Hilton and surrounding buildings, lines formed quickly
> as balloting began at 10 a.m. Staff from the Story
> County auditor's office supervised the voting, and
> state Auditor David Vaudt oversaw the ballot counting.
> There were few complaints about the voting process.
> Inside, syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham was the
> master of ceremonies, and the polished stagecraft
> included candidate videos played on jumbo screens.
> The nation's political news media were focused on the
> event, despite the high-profile no-shows. More than
> 400 members of at least 150 news organizations were on
> hand covering the event.Dozens of satellite news
> trucks crowded the parking area just south of the
> Giuliani said in June that he would not participate in
> the straw poll, suggesting his campaign could more
> wisely spend the estimated $3million it would take to
> prepare for Ames by investing in his early-state
> McCain said his reason for giving up his straw poll
> plan was that Giuliani's absence diminished the
> contest's significance. Later, McCain slashed his Iowa
> and national campaign organizations in light of
> financial trouble.
> "I think anybody who is not in the straw poll made a
> mistake," U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa
> Republican, told reporters. "They are losing an
> opportunity to refortify their national position. And
> particularly Giuliani, that's for sure."
> Lorna Burnside, a rare undecided Republican attending
> the event, said she doesn't begrudge Giuliani or
> McCain for skipping the event, but thinks they did
> their Iowa campaigns a disservice.
> "You can't get this many people together and not make
> an impact by staying away. You just can't do it," she
> said. "There's just too many people here."
> Staff writers Jennifer Jacobs and Jason Clayworth
> contributed to this article.