Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney met expectations by easily winning the GOP Iowa Straw Poll on Saturday, garnering 31.5 percent of the vote. Romney was expected to win because of his strong showing in early scientific polls and due to the no-shows at the Straw Poll of three other top candidates: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Fred Thompson. The Straw Poll is not scientific, as attendees must pay a fee to vote, though candidates publicly claim it to be a good measure of 'grassroots support.'
Romney, the other six Republican candidates, plus Illinois attorney John Cox (who has not been allowed to participate in any of the debates thus far) were each allowed to give 15 minute speeches to the Straw Poll attendees in Ames, Iowa.
Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson came in just sixth place, winning 7.3 percent of the vote—far short of his own stated expectations. In the preceding weeks Thompson claimed he needed to finish in the top 2 at the Straw Poll to remain competitive heading into the fall. Despite the absence of Giuliani, McCain, and Fred Thompson, California Congressman Duncan Hunter only received the support of 1.2 percent of the attendees—approximately the same level of support he receives in scientific polling that does include those candidates.
Mike Huckabee (18.1 percent), Sam Brownback (15.3 percent), and Tom Tancredo (13.7 percent) all had strong showings that should keep them in the race well into the fall. Ron Paul (9.1 percent) had a raucous band of supporters, and his fifth place showing will not likely deter his campaign—Paul has proven to be one of the better fundraisers in the GOP field, despite polling in the low single digits in all scientific polls both nationally and in Iowa.
The key question in the coming weeks is whether or not the absence of Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and McCain at the Straw Poll will negatively impact their candidacies statewide, and, if so, whether Huckabee, Brownback, or Tancredo can capitalize and close the gap between themselves and the 'top tier.'
The final results of the 200y Iowa Straw Poll are:
Mitt Romney -- 4,516 votes (31.5%)
Mike Huckabee -- 2,587 votes (18.1%)
Sam Brownback -- 2,192 votes (15.3%)
Tom Tancredo -- 1,961 votes (13.7%)
Ron Paul -- 1,305 votes (9.1%)
Tommy Thompson -- 1,039 votes (7.3%)
Fred Thompson -- 203 votes (1.4%)
Rudy Giuliani -- 183 votes (1.3%)
Duncan Hunter -- 174 votes (1.2%)
John McCain -- 101 votes (1%)
John Cox -- 41 votes (0.1%)
14,302 total ballots were cast.