However, does Huckabee want to win the Iowa straw poll? According to IowaRepublican.com, Huckabee’s Iowa chairman from 2008, Bob Vander Plaats, has advised Huckabee not to enter the presidential campaign until after the straw poll. This may seem counterintuitive. Huckabee’s second place finish at the Ames straw poll solidified him as a force in the 2008 campaign.
But waiting to announce until after the straw poll may be a wise move. Huckabee is no longer an unknown governor in desperate need of momentum, but a nationally known figure both in Iowa and the nation. Were Huckabee to compete for the Iowa straw poll and not win, it would be a devastating blow. For a candidate with credibility and a strong base of support, spending limited resources on winning a non-binding straw poll would make as much sense as a major league baseball team spending $10 million extra to get the best record in spring training.
After each Iowa straw poll, many campaigns fold due to their failure to gain momentum coming out of the straw poll. Candidates like Lamar Alexander and Dan Quayle in 2000 and Tommy Thompson and Sam Brownback in 2008 dropped out soon after Ames. By not being a candidate until after the straw vote, Huckabee would avoid getting into skirmishes with candidates who will not be in the race come caucus night. He will also be better able to attract their supporters.