Is this a “Must Win” for the GOP’s third favourite?
A week on Saturday at a university campus at Ames in Iowa what’s generally regarded as the first serious test of opinion about who should be the Republican party nominee takes place. The Ames Straw poll can be a hugely influential and in 1999 attracted more that 23,000 participants.
There’s a whole series of things from barbecues to concerts going on during day finishing off with a vote amongst participants on would be the best choice. This is usually seen as a good pointer for the Iowa caucuses which is the first formal primary to take place in the 2012 race.
This year Mitt Romney, winner at Ames in 2008, is not participating while Jon Huntsman is not taking part in the caucuses at all.
It can cost a lot of money marshalling your support and making the event a good day out for supporters. Last time Romney secured 4516 votes (33%) and it was estimated that he’d spent $3.8m – or $800 a vote.
The candidate who desperately needs a good showing in Ames is Michelle Bachmann – currently third in the betting for the nomination. She was born in the state and there are big expectations that she’ll top the vote in February’s caucuses.
A win at Ames will help build momentum for Michelle’s campaign, create a sense of inevitability for the caucuses, and demonstrate the effectiveness of her field operation. If she’s defeated it would be a big blow.
In the build-up there’s the first Iowa GOP candidates’ TV debate next Thursday.
Intrade make her a 68% chance to win Ames and a 48% chance to win the state caucuses.