Michelle Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll announcement on Saturday in Iowa, as she was expected to do so. The top three in the poll were:
- Michelle Bachmann 4,823 votes (28.6%)
- Ron Paul 4,671 votes (27.7%)
- Tim Pawlenty 2,293 votes (13.6%)
If you want to know the importance of the Ames Straw Poll I suggest you read Five Thirty Eight‘s “Why Ames Actually Matters.”
“Ames has a pretty good predictive track record. Since the event began in 1979, the candidate winning the Iowa caucus has placed first or second in the straw poll every time.”
On Saturday evening I watched some of the Fox News coverage leading up to announcement. This was, I think, the first time I’ve ever properly watched Fox News and I was a little shocked at quite how anti-Paul they were. Predicting a Paul victory the anchors were already explaining why Paul does well in certain polls but is insignificant in general. All of the coverage was dedicated to talking about Bachmann or Pawlenty or Perry. There was one guy who started an argument with “I quite like Ron Paul,” and he was interrupted and cut off many times.
This is of course the Fox News we all hear about, but it’s still quite shocking seeing them gun so heavily at someone who is right-wing. It really is quite shocking the way that Ron Paul is largely ignored by the media. Admittedly I don’t read a lot of the American media on a daily basis, but over the weekend I’ve read a fair few op-eds and the ‘big three’ mentioned everywhere are Romney, Bachmann and Perry. Considering Romney scraped a mere 567 votes in the Straw Poll this seems a little absurd.
My problem with the Republican nomination is that I fail to get excited by many of the candidates. I think Ron Paul is one of the most interesting politicians the country has, and as I’ve said before I’d happily take him in the Conservative Party over here. Yet if I look at the rest of the field, it’s just slightly disheartening.
Unlike many I’ve seen over here, I just can’t get excited by Rick Perry. Toby Harnden writes (“US election 2012: Michele Bachmann snubs Rick Perry at Iowa Republican dinner“),
“Vowing to veto any bills from Congress increasing the country’s debt, he pulled out a Sharpie pen and thundered: ‘The president of the United States has a pen, and it’s called a veto pen. And I’ll use that until all of the ink runs out to get the message across that we’re not spending all the money.'”
Which is wonderful rhetoric, and he certainly was a crowd-pleaser. Yet as Governor of Texas, increased the size of government has increased, he increased spending and he raised taxes.
For anyone who isn’t a social conservative – and this is the point where many Brits find it very hard to like the Republican Party – it’s almost impossible to feel inspired by the ‘big three’ that media has selected. Already on Twitter, many libertarians are toasting the possibility of a Rand Paul ticket in 2016. I’m not quite prepared to give up on this race yet, but at the moment it’s certainly going that way.