Most folks who travel to Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, do so to watch an Iowa State Cyclones sporting event. This week they went to attend the Iowa Straw Poll.
The Iowa Straw Poll is in no way democratic or representative of the whole of the Republican Party or even the Republican Party in the state of Iowa. It is a contest where the well moneyed and well-organized can pick up some steam and some good press, a little more than a year from the 2012 presidential election. Native daughter, Michele Bachmann won the poll, but who really won the event.
While Michele Bachmann won the poll, her win was not that strong. She expected to do well in Iowa. She has roots in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area of the state. Bachmann also has popular appeal with many evangelicals and pro-lifers. She not only invokes her Christian faith, but speaking as an evangelical myself, but she speaks as one who uses Christian terminology well and with conviction. Both her regional appeal and her strong pro-life, evangelical message played well in the debate and the speeches.
Surprisingly, she had the poorer responses from Twitter buzz. The chief concerns is that she is too far to the right, too willing to cut programs that help the poor, while keeping taxes low for the rich and the corporations. Some on social media called her on taking money from the stimulus and from the EPA for her district, yet being on the record as wanting to weaken the powers of the EPA. Of course she took some flack for her focus on faith and values issues. Ironically, some women who may support her positions would not vote for her because they don’t want a woman in the White House.
Ron Paul came across better than expected. His coalition of libertarians and libertarian leaning evangelicals came out in greater percentages than in the caucuses in 2008. While his message of more personal liberty, bringing the troops home and ending the Fed remained; but connecting his pro-life message with the libertarian message may have won some doubting evangelicals.
While the press still does not take Ron Paul seriously, there is more discussion of why Ron Paul isn’t being taken seriously by the media, within the media itself. Another positive point to Paul’s credit is that he was able to turn his national support structure into votes in a single geographic area, which is central in his success in the primaries and a possible general election.
Rick Perry may have been the biggest winner of the event, with his announcement of his candidacy. He seemed to get the most buzz in the social media. He also did not say or do anything that might be embarrassing to him self.
Romney did well overall, but took the heat for supporting the nasty fact that corporations are people. This was not a good week for such a statement, with the amount of money lost in the stock market this week.
Newt Gingrich and Thad McCotter did better than expected. Some said that McCotter was the most interesting candidate in the pack.
Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, John Huntsman and Thad McCotter did not seem to make any surprising strides in gaining new supports.
Finally, Tim Pawlenty bowed out after a weak third place showing. He was most hurt during the debate, when he challenged Bachmann on the basis of her lack of results in getting the legislation she supported, passed by the Congress.
As far as buzz goes, Perry and Romney come out a strong one and two, with many independents and moderates looking for someone else to support.