One must go beyond a simplistic "Romney Won" or a "Romney Had Disappointing Showing" to understand the implications of the Iowa Straw Poll. What is most important is the pattern of voting that shows the dominant issues that will decide the Republican Candidate for President in 2008.
The vote count and percentages are as follows:
Mitt Romney -- 4516 (31.5%)
Mike Huckabee -- 2587 (18.1%)
Sam Brownback -- 2192 (15.3%)
Tom Tancredo -- 1961 (13.7%)
Ron Paul -- 1305 (9.1%)
Tommy Thompson -- 1039 (7.3%)
Fred Thompson -- 203 (1.4%)
Rudy Giuliani -- 183 (1.3%)
Duncan Hunter -- 174 (1.2%)
John McCain -- 101 (1%)
John Cox -- 41 (0.1%)
14,302 total ballots cast.
When looked as groups or segments of voters, the straw poll can be analyzed as follows:
35.2% Celebrity/Best Chance Candidates (Romney, Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain)
33.4% Pro-Life Candidates (Huckabee and Brownback)
24.0% Immigration (Tancredo, Paul, Hunter)
7.4% Unclassified (Thompson, Cox)
Celebrity voters will vote for the most prominent candidate in the field. They tend to be party line voters and want a candidate that has the best chance of winning the election. This segment is a little over a third of the voters.
Pro-Life voters want a candidate with a strong record on the issue. They are single-issue voters. Huckabee and Brownback spent extensive time courting these voters. Huckabee is a Baptist minister.
Immigration voters want a candidate that is against amnesty, will close the border and will remove illegal aliens from this country. Tancredo spent his efforts on this issue to get voters to the poll.
The percentages for each state may differ from what is apparent in Iowa, but nevertheless the segmentation appears to be a valid way of analyzing the Iowa vote and determining the implications for the 2008 primary season. Neither do the percentages exactly reflect the opinion of less concerned voters. Nevertheless, the straw poll does indicate the current Celebrity/Best Chance candidates all have major weaknesses with the Pro-Life and Immigration voters. Romney and Giuliani have openly avowed their support for "Right to Choose," that is abortions, at one time or another in their political lives. Pro-Life voters will not forget or forgive their records. In addition, McCain is dead in the water over amnesty for illegal aliens, and Giuliani wears the big tag of "amnesty mayor" among the immigration voters, while Romney has a less that stellar record on immigration.
Giuliani and McCain will probably skip the Iowa Caucus at the beginning of 2008. It would be a waste of time and money. However, they have to enter the New Hampshire primary. Here the most likely affect of their running is to split the Celebrity/Best Chance vote. If we assume the proportion of voters is about the same, then it is conceivable that the result could be 16% for Romney, 16% for Giuliani and 2% for McCain. Romney and Giuliani are stuck splitting the Celebrity/Best Chance vote with nowhere to go but down. In effect, they will "lose" the primary because they have not overwhelmed the electorate.
The best thing that Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson could do for their own careers is to drop out of the race before the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primaries and hope that Mitt Romney wins the primary and election. Then can then hope for a cabinet position in his administration. If they run, they will destroy Romney's chances by splitting the Celebrity vote.
Vanity will most likely stop them from doing quitting. Candidates this far into the game don’t quit because it is hopeless; they quit because they do not have a dime left in their treasuries.
Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback will again go after the Pro-Life vote. They may pick up a portion of the Celebrity/Best Chance vote because they finished one and two in the Iowa Straw poll. Remember, the Celebrity/Best Chance vote likes to ride the apparent winner. They will not gain anything from the Immigration voters, who know and understand their records.
Tom Tancredo will again go after the Immigration vote. He has that vote in his pocket, but he will also put more of his efforts with Pro-Life voters. He has a chance with these voters because he has consistently held this position. And like Huckabee and Brownback, he may move some of the Celebrity/Best Chance voters into his column. In effect, Tancredo has a better chance of increasing his percent of the vote than do either Huckabee or Brownback. He can go after two segments, Pro-Life and Celebrity voters, while they can only go after one.
The first criteria of winning the 2008 Republican nomination will be making a strong showing among the Pro-Life and Immigration voters who are 57.4% of the voters as indicated by the straw polls.
The second criteria are making inroads into the 35.2% of the Celebrity/Best chance voters. Additional publicity, advertising and public recognition will increase the visibility and importance of the now second tier candidates.
The chances of Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson look very dim indeed in this analysis. The chances of Brownback, Huckabee and Tancredo look much stronger in eventually taking the 2008 nomination.
CT Citizens for Immigration Reform
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Paul Streitz is the author of America First, Why Americans must end free trade, stop outsourcing and close our open borders. He was a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2004 and 2006. He is a co-founder of CT Citizens for Immigration Control.