Last week, without massive fanfare, something happened in Ames Iowa. It wasn’t a gigantic political rally. It wasn’t a huge speech given by some candidate. Rather, it was simply a scheduling change. In Ames, Iowa, at the age of thirty-six, the Iowa Straw Poll died.
On the surface it seems like it was bound to happen. The Ames Iowa Straw Poll never was a good indicator. The sample wasn’t random, and in fact many of the people who voted were actually paid by the candidate’s campaigns. But it did make headlines. And besides that, it was one of the few great friends that weak candidates had.
In 2011, former congresswoman Michelle Bachman won the straw poll. Of course, Bachman, always a weak candidate, eventually dropped out. But many credited the fact that she won the straw poll as keeping her alive so long.
The Straw Poll was always less of a chance to prove oneself the front runner, and more of a chance to show donors and people who might potentially want to volunteer to help your campaign that you were actually a viable candidate.
Now, that chance is gone, and it will hurt the likes of Donald Trump, who, with plenty of money to buys votes and no obvious need for donors, could conceivably have done well.
The second place for a candidate without much support to do well is the debates. In 2011-12, they helped kill Rick Perry, give Rick Santorum such a spot light he is running again, and even make long shot candidate Herman Cain a nationally known figure.
Now however, with FOX’s new debate platform, only the top 10 people in the polls will be on the platform. CNN will be having something similar, and it is possible that eventually others who are holding debates could follow suit.
Of course, it’s perfectly logical. We don’t need twenty people on the platform. In 2011, candidates complained, (Bachman among them) that they didn’t get enough time to talk. Double that amount of candidates, and the results would be chaos.
But the fact still stands. In a field already hard for any candidate, let alone a long shot one, because of the sheer size of the Republican field, to break free. And now, it’s going to be even harder.
But in the end that will be a good thing. If you can’t run a campaign, you sure can’t run a country. And if the people don’t really want you, you have no business being President anyway.
Andrew C. Abbott