Having spent a kabajillion dollars in Iowa on the Straw Poll so far (including thousands on air conditioned buses to cart citizens to Ames), Romney is now trying to convince reporters that the Ames Straw Poll is not big deal. And, you know what, it’s not even like it counts! Hardly anyone’s going to be there and maybe we should all just go home. From a memo sent out by his spokesguy Kevin Madden:
Ames Fast Facts:
The 1999 Ames Straw Poll was an anomaly and it is unrealistic to compare absolute turnout figures from 1999 to this year.
In August 1999, George Bush had a dominant lead in national polls. A July Pew Research poll showed his support at 60%, with his closest challenger, Elizabeth Dole, at 13%. Currently, the average of national public polls in August shows Gov. Romney at approximately 10%. This lack of a prevailing national front runner, will suppress attendance at this year’s Straw Poll.
In addition to his national frontrunner status, Bush was the clear favorite in Iowa. Three days before the Straw Poll, PSI fielded a statewide poll that showed Bush at 37% with Steve Forbes in second place with 15%. While Gov. Romney leads in Iowa, his support does not reach the level of Bush’s in 1999. The average of all statewide polls in July showed support for Gov. Romney at 24.8%.
Finally, this year’s Straw Poll is absent of two major candidates and non-candidate Fred Thompson. While their names will still appear on the ballot, their absence from the event will undoubtedly lower attendance.
So, guys, put down those fried Twinkies and just go back to your home bureaus. I’m looking at you, Cillizza.
An interesting supporting piece of evidence that would support Madden’s low-turnout theory is missing: Iowa voters are pretty bummed out about their Republican choices.