Four years ago, roughly 15,000 “activists” showed up at the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll to support the various presidential candidates with whom they were aligned. Twelve years ago (in 1999), roughly 23,000 “activists” showed up.
Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that 20,000 activists show up for the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll next month (on August 13th, to be exact).
In order to win, one candidate will have to attract roughly 6000 “straw” votes. That’s what all of the political commentary about the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll boils down to, by the numbers.
Who can do that? Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry have chosen not to compete. Rep. Ron Paul seems like he’s capable of building a crowd of 5,000 supporters. Rep. Michele Bachmann seems like she’s capable of building a crowd of 6,000 supporters. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty needs to show that he can build a crowd in the 5,000-6,000 range to prove that he is still a viable candidate. If he falls short of that, then his money will dry up and his campaign will end. Just like that.
There’s a lot of blather on the web now about Pawlenty’s failure to “connect” with GOP primary voters and caucus attenders. None of it matters. The only thing that matters now is Pawlenty’s RV tour of Iowa. He needs to do 100 events in 100 different places where he picks up the support of at least 5 people who will works their hearts out on his behalf. If those 500 people can bring 10 friends and associates to the Iowa Straw Poll, Pawlenty will have his 5000 votes. If he can only get 250 people to bring 10 of their friends and associates, he’s done.
It seems absurd, on some level, that this could be true. But it is.
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