Several interesting things have emerged in the aftermath of the Ames Iowa straw vote. First of all, pro-corporate America candidate Mitt Romney proved that the miracle of spending of $800 per vote to win the Iowa straw poll will always get you the desired result. Romney will also carry some momentum now into next year's caucuses in Iowa as well into the New Hampshire primary, but where he goes from there is heavily in doubt as Rudolph Giuliani is far better organized in South Carolina, New York, California and other delegate rich tests. Fred Thompson may even get his act together after Labor Day, and become the main choice of GOP conservative voters, further reducing any ultimate role of Romney.
But some other news came out of Iowa. There was a 40% reduction in voters compared to 1999 when 23,000 voters gave George Bush a victory there. This year, only a little over 14,000 voters bothered to pay the $35 fee to vote, up from $25 before.
This lower turnout proves a lack of fire in the Republican Party and that it is still in the doldrums, with voters unmotivated -- likely due to dissatisfaction with the candidates as well as a general unease in the direction that George Bush brought the country with his presidency largely defined by the war in Iraq. Further, Iowa as a whole as a state is likely to swing back into the Democratic column in 2008, as it only very narrowly rejected John Kerry in 2004.
The only real motivated voters were Christian social conservatives and those in the right-to-life movement, who split their votes between the gregarious Mike Huckabee and the sometimes testy, if not nasty, Sam Brownback. This proves that a strong contingent of pro-life voters remain as a core interest group within the Republican Party, and also represent a potential stumbling block to either Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney, who fail to inspire much support from these voters, and could easily bolt the party in favor of a third party pro-life candidate in November 2008.
Iowa also proved that the GOP presidential sweepstakes may not be big enough for two candidates named Thompson in the race. Tommy Thompson is widely expected to withdraw as a candidate as a result of his poor showing.
Romney did what he had to. He spent millions to manufacture a win in Iowa. But that seems to guarantee nothing in the long race to become president. Just ask a former candidate of the past named Steve Forbes.
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