When you evaluate the importance of the Iowa Republican straw poll being held this weekend I suggest looking at this from a number of different directions.
First, as Paul Hooson pointed out a few days ago, in many ways the vote is a farce to start with.
On August 11, the Republican Party of Iowa will sponsor a fund-raising voting farce event that reeks of the old-time Chicago machine politics of Democratic Mayor Richard Daly of the past. Candidates and campaigns will be busing in their voters and paying the $35 fee to vote, as well as providing food, entertainment, and other gifts to their selected voters. This rigged process will unfortunately have the effect of boosting some candidates who probably don't deserve the exposure and the good PR generated as the news media will loudly proclaim the winner in an event that looks sort of like a first primary event, but certainly is not.
With the bouncy ride of late in the US equity markets, Reid Wilson at REAL CLEAR POLITICS evaluates this weekend's farce in stock market terms. Here's his premise:
The expectations have been set. The barbeque has been ordered. The Elvis impersonators are on their way. Today, in short, marks the most important event of the 2008 Republican presidential nominating process thus far. And while the stock market has had a rough ride in recent weeks, one, it is said, can make money in both a bear and a bull market. In that spirit, here's a quick run down of what stocks to buy and sell - in no particular order - as GOP voters cast their straw poll ballots at Iowa State University:
I'll provide the short version, click over to the link above for Reid's complete spiel.
- Romney: SELL "Yes, he'll likely win today's event. But with Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John McCain taking a pass, his biggest rivals actively participating in the event are Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback, or maybe Tom Tancredo. With competition like that -- candidates who, for better or worse, are simply not on the national radar -- Romney may learn when a win isn't really a win."
- Guiliani: BUY "Today marks Giuliani's low point. It is doubtful that he will finish last. As one Iowa Republican noted yesterday to his lady friend, it may not matter much to Iowans that Giuliani doesn't have the greatest pro-life record. The gentleman was overheard to say, "Yeah, but he's electable."
- Huckabee & Brownback: BUY "But don't be afraid to dump these two stocks very quickly. The sense around Iowa is that only one can "win," or at least meet expectations. Both candidates are playing to a very socially conservative base that would ordinarily propel one of them to a strong showing. But the problem has always been that there are two candidates running, not one. Anecdotally, Huckabee resonates more with Iowa Republicans, who like his almost-understated style. By the same token, Brownback is more organized, is running buses to Ames, and seems to have the stronger field organization (including a team not of interns, but of "externs," a definition of which will hopefully be forthcoming). In essence, if you're buying Tancredo, stay away from these two."
- Tancredo: BUY "Tancredo is putting money into organizing for the straw poll, which would help if he had some kind of ideological following. And as THE candidate most significantly tied to anti-illegal immigration efforts, Tancredo has that following. Of everyone in the field, it is Tancredo, with low national expectations, who could come out as the big winner in Ames, buoying himself not to the top tier in Iowa but certainly above everyone not named Mitt, Rudy, or Fred."
- Tommy Thompson: SELL "And fast. By continuing to espouse his strong belief that he will finish second in the poll, even as his campaign team tries to positively spin a "top half" finish, Thompson is undercutting any hope he has of continuing if he doesn't place right behind Romney."
- Paul: BUY "We know we'll get a thousand emails about this, but any time one tries to apply any sort of metrics to the Paul campaign, it looks bad for Dr. No. [...] With no noticeable move in the polls (not including easily manipulated internet polls), he goes in to Ames with no expectations. Anything that happens for him is a win."
- Fred Thompson: BUY "For much the same reason Giuliani is a good bet, Thompson will likely grab a significant vote tally. Rightly or wrongly, people think he's electable, and many see him as a conservative White Knight. A one-and-a-half term former senator with a not-really-campaign at 18.7%, good for second place in the latest RCP National Average? Well, he'll have some devotees, and even without effort, he'll beat out most of the second-tier candidates. The real question is whether the next-day stories will include his name."
- McCain: SELL "Iowans just don't like John McCain. Eight years after blowing them off for their New Hampshire brethren, McCain squandered an early lead in Iowa by unofficially blowing them off again - until he made his neglect official by skipping the straw poll. McCain may still have his shot in New Hampshire, but his Iowa campaign is low on the totem pole."
- Hunter: SELL "Much like Tommy Thompson, Hunter should be doing better. He's got interesting ideas and a different outlook than many of the candidates. But he's old-school, a reminder of when many Americans knew which senator or congressman chaired important committees like Hunter's Armed Services post. And while he's sharper on the stump than Thompson, he is arguably the most pro-war Republican in a year in which even Republicans are starting to back away from President Bush's war."
- Gingrich: SELL "Why include Newt? His name won't be on the ballot, but the Georgian will have a table set up to sell his new book."
And my own penny stock long-shot gamble hot stock tip for this weekend's meat(head) market in Iowa? Watch Paul do surprisingly well this weekend, exceeding expectations -- and stealing the headlines for the next week or two in the process.
Wouldn't that make the millions Mitt Romney spent in Iowa look like a total waste, and make Paul look like the smart guy.
Not that a smart Republican would have a prayer of making the nomination, judging from the moron the NPAC neocons installed into the White House in 2000, but one can always hope the GOP will end up with a smart candidate.. right?
Ok, I did say it was a long shot.
UPDATE: I just picked up this tidbit - "Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado will host an "Iowa Idol" talent competition featuring "celebrity judges." He also has been offering an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington for anyone who brings 25 friends to the straw poll."
It's always good to see a Republican who practices good old-fashioned conservative principles like traditional GOP vote buying...
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!