(Published as a letter to the editor of the Leavenworth Times, August 25, 2011)
Are 16,000+ Republicans crazy? Looking at the results of the Iowa Straw Poll, you might think so. Except for two or three with the worst results, they may have gotten it backwards: Bachmann 29%, Paul 28%, Pawlenty 14%, Santorum 10%, Cain 9%, Perry 4%, Romney 3%, Gingrich 2%, Huntsman 0.4%, and McCotter 0.2%.
Disregarding Huntsman and McCotter (who never had a chance) the straw poll voters might have perfectly predicted the standings – in reverse — of what will happen in the primary race, which still has 15 months to play out. In my humble opinion, the last four standing — who have a chance to win — will be Romney, Perry, Gingrich, and Santorum. I’ll pick Perry to win, Romney a close second, or vice versa. Santorum, young, dedicated, and smart but inexperienced, will appeal to many. Gingrich’s intelligence and knowledge could cause him to gradually move up in the race, but ultimately fail.
Why won’t Bachmann win? Not enough experience, and because she’s a woman – the bar is unfairly higher. I like her intellect, speaking ability, and grit. I think she’ll last well into the primaries, but eventually fall behind in the delegate count. She is the dark horse in the race, and I think she’d be a great president, however. She could be picked for vice president.
Paul? As a fanatic Libertarian, he’ll stay in the race, but will ultimately get less than 10 per cent of the delegates. The only danger might be that he’ll stay on the ballot – with the Libertarian Party, and steal precious (ultra-) conservative votes away from the Republicans.
Pawlenty and Cain will fade away quickly when the real polls and caucuses begin in December, if they last that long.
So, assuming I’m right, how could the Iowa voters be so far off the mark? It’s the way Iowa Republicans run the event. It’s really a fundraiser. To vote in the poll, you have to have a ticket that costs $30. Most don’t buy their own. Some candidates come in early, buy up a bunch of tickets, and hand them out, along with barbecue sandwiches, to anyone who will show up at their rallies. The five politicians who finished at the top did exactly that. The lower five didn’t bother. It’s that simple: the majority of the votes were bought.