So who’s going to win the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday? That’s a good question. Candidates generally bus in supporters to cast ballots, which is why Mitt Romney not winning there in 2007 was such a big deal, especially since he dropped over $1 million on the state.
Gov. Terry Branstad predicts that whoever wins on Saturday will go on to win the Iowa caucuses in February. That’s not always the rule, but it certainly does show that a candidate can be a formidable opponent. With a few of the candidates (Romney and Jon Huntsman, and Pawlenty has pulled his ads) not competiting there, it has paved the way for Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul to gain momentum.
Michael Barone has a persuasive piece on why Rep. Michele Bachmann’s adept political touch in Iowa makes her the front-runner to win the Ames Straw Poll. But I’ve been assuming that Rep. Ron Paul’s rabid fan base, which has propelled him into first in many straw polls this year, will put him over the top on Saturday.
Chris Cillizza has argued that Paul’s success in straw polls is due to the fact that they usually have very small turnout, whereas Ames is quite large by straw poll standards. He notes that in 2007, Paul finished fifth, with 1,305 votes in Ames.