At today's Iowa straw poll, there was record turnout: over 16,500 voters cast ballots, Politico reports. "That figure — just short of 17,000 — easily exceeds the over-under number of 14,000, which is where a number of strategists guessed turnout would land." It's been observes that this may be the second most ballots case ever after 1999, when there was an epic George W. Bush v Forbes duel. And with numbers like that, there was naturally much, much speculation as to who would be in what place, and what all of that would mean for the wide GOP field.
Without further ado, here are the results:
- Michele Bachmann: ~4823 (~28.5%)
- Ron Paul: ~4671 (~27.6%)
- Tim Pawlenty: ~ 2,293 (~13.6%)
- Rick Santorum: ~1657 (~9.8%)
- Herman Cain: ~1456 (~8.6%)
- Rick Perry (write-in candidate): ~718
- Mitt Romney (write-in candidate): ~567
- Newt Gingrich: ~385
- Jon Hunstman: ~69
- Thadeus McCotter: ~35
The results as to the top three aren't surprising, based on the prediction tweets. Even candidate Jon Hunstman apparently reportedly predicted the top three to CNN's Mark Preston earlier today: "Huntsman just gave me his prediction for #iastrawpoll: 1.Bachmann 2.Paul 3.Pawlenty. He is campaigning today in NH."Political consultant Mike Murphy tweeted around 5pm "Michele B 1st, Paul 2nd close Tpaw vs RS race for 3rd."
But what does this all mean?
Bachmann wins. The pundits were saying that the person most hurt by a Bachmann victory would be Rick Perry, who otherwise would have sucked up all the air from today. Ben Smith from Politico tweeted: "If Paul wins, Rick Perry leads the news; if Bachmann wins, Bachmann overshadows Perry's launch a bit I think." Who (apart from Bachmann) would be happy about that? Well, Mitt Romney. Smith added, to ABC Political Director Amy Walters, "I think Mitt might like Bachmann to suck up a bit of Perry's oxygen."
Ron Paul in second: Less commentary on this one, apart from comments that his second place landing would disappoint Rick Perry, who might have wanted less attention for Bachmann. But he came very, very close, certainly closer than earlier predictions. Benton, Ron Paul’s manager, had set a modest goal to Politico earlier: “The other guys will be tough, but we are confident we can finish in the top four.” They certainly did, but little has been surmised as to what end. Most of the attention has been on...
Pawlenty in third. Allahpundit was tweeting up a storm about where Pawlenty would land, beginning with: "If T-Paw finishes fourth behind Santorum, he drops out. If he finishes fifth behind Santorum and Cain, he commits hara-kiri onstage"; "If Pawlenty finishes behind McCotter, he has to do the Napoleon Dynamite dance"; and "If Pawlenty finishes behind Perry write-in votes, he has to legally change his name to "Generic Republican".
Humor aside, Politico also noted earlier that Pawlenty had the most to lose. And even though he avoided the consequences of a fourth or lower win, not everyone thinks third is good enough. “My sense is that if Pawlenty comes in third, it gets awful hard for him to raise money,” said Bachmann campaign manager Ed Rollins to Politico, prior to the results. Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times tweeted that his number was "disappointing." So is he out of the race? Possibly -- although Mike Huckabee reportedly told Pawlenty to stay in the game no matter what.
And the rest: Rick Perry apparently took the wind out of the sales of most of the candidates with his announcement on entering the fray today, as Politico observes: "Perry holds the tantalizing promise of being the candidate everybody can agree on. To tea party die-hards, he’s Ron Paul with electability; to evangelicals, he’s Mike Huckabee with big-state gravitas; to the country-club set, he’s a steady hand with a long record of being someone they can do business with." So his declaration carries a wider shadow than the results. Santorum was fourth, but not close enough to be near a tie for Pawlenty. As for Herman Cain, commentary seemed to be along the line of U.S. editor of the Telegraph Toby Harnden, who tweeted: "Wonder if Herman Cain will get a radio or tv gig, Huckabeestyle, out of his presidential run." Finally, worth noting that Perry beat Romney as a write-in candidate, and both bested Newt Gingrich, who was there. So the next question is: who will drop out first?