AMES, Iowa - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won an easy and expected victory in a high-profile Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll on Saturday, claiming nearly twice as many votes as his nearest rival.
Romney had been expected to win the test because he spent millions of dollars and months of effort on an event that was skipped by two of his major rivals.
1. Mitt Romney - 4516 - 31.5%
2. Mike Huckabee - 2587 - 18.1%
3. Sam Brownback - 2192 - 15.3%
4. Tom Tancredo - 1961
5. Ron Paul - 1305
6. Tommy Thompson - 1039
7. Fred Thompson - 203
8. Rudy Giuliani - 183
9. Duncan Hunter - 174
10. John McCain - 101
11. John Cox - 41
Mitt Romney - He was expected to win. Anything less would be considered a loss. He met expectations and won by over 10% His biggest strength is his organization, and it came through for him.
Mike Huckabee - A strong 2nd. Most have not really heard of him. I thought he may be a darkhorse, but he exceeded my expectations there. He's an excellent speaker from a swing state and IMO won every debate I've seen him in. This is a big win, especially since it is not in the South.
Sam Brownback - He probably needed top 3, and got it. Iowa neighbors Kansas, and a less than top 3 showing may knock him out.
Tommy Thompson - He said if he didn't finish in the top 2, he would probably drop. 6th place is not even close, and that goes double for a Midwesterner.
Duncan Hunter - I like Hunter, but he needed to get momentum. If you just looked at background without taking in name recognition, money, and current office, he'd probably be the best candidate. 9th place finishing behind non candidates is a disaster. That's too bad. I think Tommy Thompson (Who I was considering) and Hunter (where I have been leaning) may be knocked out from this. At best, their campaign is in trouble. That's unfortunate.
John Cox - I don't know anything about him. Last place however is last place.
Too early to tell:
Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul - They showed that they are real candidates. They didn't get top three, but they placed and have something to build on in the next few months. I kind of thought that Ron Paul would finish top three, but internet support is different than ground support. Can he use it to his advantage. As far as Tancredo goes, immigration is a major issue. Can he branch off from that and go to other issues? We'll see.
Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain skipped the poll. Whether this hurts or helps remains to be seen. They didn't finish last either, and that's good for their campaign.
The biggest news I think was Huckabee's 2nd place finish. The question is will he build on this and join Romney, Giuliani, McCain, and Fred Thompson in the "Top Tier." South Carolina will be his big test.