My debate, straw poll preview

posted at 2:05 pm on August 11, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Fox News Insider asked me for some brief thoughts on expectations for tonight’s Republican presidential debate here in Ames, Iowa, and on the straw poll on Saturday.  I predicted that tonight’s debate would be the real start to the primary season and that candidates would finally start throwing some punches at each other as the pressure builds to differentiate from the pack:

I’m looking for some different indicators at the two events this week. The events before the debate tonight show the candidates in a feisty mood, but still aiming most of their barbs at Barack Obama than each other. …

Of course, Pawlenty notoriously missed a chance to do the same in the previous nationally-televised debate, but so did everyone else. The GOP candidates focused on Obama rather than each other, apparently heeding Ronald Reagan’s “eleventh commandment” not to attack fellow Republicans. Unfortunately, Reagan’s not running in this primary, and neither is Obama. If the candidates start debating the experience and record of each other in tonight’s debate, then voters in Iowa will know they are truly engaged and fighting for their votes.

Saturday’s straw poll will test other skills of the hopefuls.  They will need to excel at retail politics and organizational skills rather than scoring debate points.  Even though each candidate will give a 15-minute speech to the crowd on Saturday, the votes will be won off the stage in handshakes, picture taking, and personal connections.  Michele Bachmann excels at retail politics, but none of the contenders are bad at it.  The difference might be approachability and the intangibles of authenticity, especially for Iowans making long treks from small communities like Ames.

This doesn’t emulate a caucus in that the votes are not counted by standing in someone’s corner, but are cast by written ballot all during the event.  That makes the Ames poll somewhat different than the January event that actually counts, and it means more strategic maneuvering.  Do candidates make their big push early and hope to lock in voters, or later to get the final sales pitch before the voters fill in the ballot and hope that their ballots have yet to be cast?  Ron Paul, whose organization should guarantee a pretty good finish in the straw poll, chose to speak second, a curious choice that could leave him out of mind in the final hour of voting.

Ames won’t make any candidates, especially with Rick Perry dramatically jumping into the race as the straw poll voting takes place.  It could break a few candidates, though, and this could be the first weeding-out point of the primary.  That makes the event – and its aftermath – worth watching.

Tina Korbe, Guy Benson, and I will be at the debate tonight and in the spin room afterward, talking with the campaigns and getting reaction on the scene.  Keep an eye out for us on Fox’s broadcast, as we may get asked to provide some of our own analysis, and of course keep checking Hot Air  and Townhall for our coverage of the debate!

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Go home all you Hobbits.

It’s over CNN Proclaims Romney/Perry 2012

PappyD61 on August 11, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Too bad Palin won’t be there because Bachmann would wipe the floor with her.

Bishop on August 11, 2011 at 2:10 PM

We are getting inundated by Michele’s television ads here…

OmahaConservative on August 11, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Obama stalkers are busy organizing subterfuge.

We’re going to be fact-checking their statements in real time and sharing that information with supporters…

Stranger danger!

Terp Mole on August 11, 2011 at 2:17 PM

I hate all this Iowa crap. In the long run it never seems to mean anything anyway, yet these rubes get credit as kingmakers or something. How tiresome.

Akzed on August 11, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Take a look at the second video of Romney.

He is confronted with some left wing activist group this morning.

Knucklehead on August 11, 2011 at 2:18 PM

By her emphasis on favorite-daughter status, Bachmann has put all her chips on Iowa. If she doesn’t come in at least second, I think she’s done.

RBMN on August 11, 2011 at 2:21 PM

My list of GOP candidates in order of which I support.

1.Sarah Palin
2.Michelle Bachmann
(Say no to the good ole GOP’s Boysclub !)
3. Rick Perry
4. Rick Santorum
5. Mitt Romney
6. Tim Pawlenty

William Amos on August 11, 2011 at 2:24 PM

I look for Pawlenty to be aggressive to make up for his timidity in the last go around. I think he’ll overdo it and do himself harm in the process. Right now, I feel a little sorry for him. He’s getting bigfooted from every direction.
Time for the food chain to go into action, I guess.

a capella on August 11, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Knucklehead on August 11, 2011 at 2:18 PM

He handled it nicely.

derft on August 11, 2011 at 2:28 PM

NFL preseason starts tonight – will anybody watch the debate?

fossten on August 11, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Too bad Palin won’t be there because Bachmann would wipe the floor with her.

Bishop on August 11, 2011 at 2:10 PM

What’s with the Bachmann vs. Palin catfight? Can’t the adults in the room have a reasoned debate?

Gov. Perry getting into this race will turn everything upside down. He has many of the same strengths as Palin without her baggage (more experience, didn’t quit), and Palin is friends with Perry, so Palin will probably decide NOT to run and eventually endorse Perry.

Bachmann is off to a strong start, but it’s EXTREMELY difficult to be elected President from the House, especially after only three terms, so she will probably fade and throw her support behind whichever candidate most closely agrees with her views, probably either Perry or Pawlenty.

Ron Paul will probably do well in the Ames poll, which is easier to “stack” with hard-core activists than a primary, but we’ve heard him before, and most voters think he’s too quirky to be President.

Unless some other candidate breaks into double-digits in the Ames poll, this will probably evolve into a Romney vs. Perry race, with a few stragglers dropping out soon, and a few others hanging on and angling for the VP nomination.

Steve Z on August 11, 2011 at 2:29 PM

someone needs to point out the extra vocal, strong, clear, voice of leadership that mittens provided during the recent debt ceiling debate….crickets

…….uh yeah

lm10001 on August 11, 2011 at 2:31 PM

As far as I am concerned Bachmann is the only one in the group who has proven she can survive the heat. Perry is a diva who has avoided the blistering attacks he will face from libs if he comes out in front. Bachmann simply needs to wait for him to implode. He may be a suitable VP choice.

1. Michelle Bachmann (not just because she’s named ‘Michelle’)
2. Tim Pawlenty (my token ‘MSM says he’s electable choice)
3. Rick Perry (a diva capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory for Republicans)
4. Mitt ‘RINO’ Romney
5. Sarah Palin (my first choice a year ago, simply may not be salvageable after 3 years of unrelenting attacks by the media).
6 Rick Santorum (why would I vote for this loser?)

doufree on August 11, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Rick Perry dramatically jumping into the race as the straw poll voting takes place.

This still sounds a little speculative, to me.

‘Course, your crystal ball may work better than mine.

I’ve got an older model.

franksalterego on August 11, 2011 at 2:33 PM

The debate will have much more of an effect on candidate popularity than the meaningless straw poll does. We need to do away with the straw poll.

slickwillie2001 on August 11, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Shad Rap in case anyone is interested.

Bishop on August 11, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Straw Poll prediction (subject to change if tonight’s debate produces drama):

1. Ron Paul (Yes, I’m calling the upset)
2. Tim Pawlenty (Recent Iowa polling shows him slightly surging, plus his org is pulling out all the stops to keep him viable)
3. Bachmann (In actual support terms, she’s prob #1, but org difficulties keep her from performing as #1)
4. Cain (just not enough money or time invested to keep up with the others)
5. Romney
6. Santorum
7. Gingrich
8. Rough tie between Huntsman, McCotter, Palin, Perry, and others

Robert_Paulson on August 11, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Adult beverages cooling in the fridge….let’s get ready to rumble!

cmsinaz on August 11, 2011 at 2:46 PM

We are getting inundated by Michele’s television ads here…

OmahaConservative on August 11, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Strangely enough, I haven’t heard her or any other candidate buy time on the radio station I listen to, even though half its audience is in Iowa. But then again, I mainly listen during Rush’s show, and the ad rate during that time is probably astronomical.

pookysgirl on August 11, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Ot: dear leader speaking on green jobs again…..bleh

cmsinaz on August 11, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Dear leader placing the blame on everything but himself

cmsinaz on August 11, 2011 at 2:51 PM

First of all I think they all need to lay out their SOLUTIONS to the major problems the government has gotten us in.

Entitlements
Wasteful spending
Jobs

Leave the attacks on Obama for their ad campaign, so far the ads are working. The last thing I want to see or hear is a “Jerry Springer Like” type of debate. There is no need to tear eacth other down, the MSM will take care of that.

milwife88 on August 11, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Bishop! Hey, man! :-)

underground on August 11, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Blame the gop once again

cmsinaz on August 11, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Blame the gop once again

cmsinaz on August 11, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Idiot on parade!

milwife88 on August 11, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Obama stalkers are busy organizing subterfuge.

…and as if on queue;

Romney gets in heated exchange with hecklers at Iowa State Fair

Democrats giddily circulated coverage of the comment; Democratic National Committee (DNC) communications director Brad Woodhouse emailed reporters an article about the remark with the subject line “BRUTAL.”

unhinged

Terp Mole on August 11, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Blame the gop ad nausem…..brinkmanship

cmsinaz on August 11, 2011 at 2:59 PM

VIDEO: Leftists heckle Romney in Iowa

Local coverage.

Fox coverage.

Terp Mole on August 11, 2011 at 3:00 PM

I’m in no hurry to see Republicans attacking one another. I was really put off by Pawlenty last time, throwing out an attack, then walking it back, then attacking again. We’ve seen so much negative in the past three years from Democrats and the New Tone… I just don’t have the stomach for in-party mud-wrestling from Republicans.

Haven’t picked a horse yet. But it’s NOT going to be one who’s so insecure that s/he feels the need to get nasty this early on. They can bet on that.

Murf76 on August 11, 2011 at 3:01 PM

unhinged

Terp Mole on August 11, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Yeah, I don’t get it. Mitt did a nice job handling them. Why is the DNC celebrating?

a capella on August 11, 2011 at 3:01 PM

WHat if Mitt pulls the ultimate upset and wins the Ames Straw Poll?

TheQuestion on August 11, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Why is the DNC celebrating?

a capella on August 11, 2011 at 3:01 PM

When all else fails declare victory!

Mangy Scot on August 11, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Ah, a crazy eyes thread.
Hey, why not a put a thread up for every candidate/potential candidate and see who gets the most action?

lonestar1 on August 11, 2011 at 3:11 PM

a capella: Mitt did a nice job handling them. Why is the DNC celebrating?

Because every time you pity Romney, a Soros-heckler earns his pitchfork.

This is Soros’ “RINO rehab“(Tm) strategy.

Terp Mole on August 11, 2011 at 3:16 PM

The fact is the straw poll counts for nothing but PR, but the PR can help or hurt. However, there is no correlation between winning Ames and the nomination or election, and just over 50% chance the winner will win the Iowa caucuses.

Incidentally, even the caucuses don’t “decide” Iowa’s delegates, only about half are determined by them.

All the sound and fury about Iowa signifies nothing save the preservation of agricultural subsidies.

Adjoran on August 11, 2011 at 3:16 PM

Steve Z on August 11, 2011 at 2:29 PM

How does the hook in your mouth taste?

fossten on August 11, 2011 at 3:22 PM

NFL preseason starts tonight – will anybody watch the debate?

fossten on August 11, 2011 at 2:29 PM

ESPN has Seattle at San Diego at 8 PM.

“Local” games are

7:30 Baltimore at Philadelphia

Jax at New England

8:30 Denver at Dallas

10:00 PM Arizona at Oakland

Del Dolemonte on August 11, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Shad Rap in case anyone is interested.

Bishop on August 11, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Shallow runner, medium runner or deep diver? Are you going after the bottom feeders or…

OnlyOrange on August 11, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Terp Mole on August 11, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Secondary title: Romney not a manikin after all!

slickwillie2001 on August 11, 2011 at 5:46 PM