In 1975, there was a straw poll in Iowa that was won by a then-unknown former Governor from Georgia, Jimmy Carter. The legendary R.W. “Johnny” Apple of The New York Times was the only national political reporter who covered the story, highlighting Carter’s upset victory.
Carter went on to win Iowa, the Democratic presidential nomination and the US presidency a year later. Straw polls, no matter how trivial, were never ignored by political reporters again.
On Saturday, Mitt Romney won the first New Hampshire Republican presidential straw poll, defeating Ron Paul by a margin of 35% to 24%. Everyone else was in single digits. The results weren’t surprising; Romney was expected to win. He finished second in the 2008 New Hampshire GOP presidential primary and has worked assiduously to maintain his network in the state.
Two things about the New Hampshire GOP gathering were surprising: Tea Party candidates (Paul, Palin, Bachmann, DeMint and Cain) collectively garnered 45% of the straw poll votes. And Jack Kimball, a Tea Party favourite, was elected Chairman of the New Hampshire State Republican Party.
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