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RealClearPolitics HorseRaceBlog

By Jay Cost

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An Ames Footnote

The conventional wisdom about McCain and Giuliani's exit from the Ames straw poll is that it hurts Romney, who was probably going to win, anyway. It takes the luster off the whole affair. Yesterday, I disagreed that it hurts Romney. Overall, I think he is at least as well off because he can save his money; however, I ceded the point that at least some of the luster will be taken off.

Now I am not as sure that the victory will be any less lustrous. Even without McCain and Giuliani, Romney can still pit himself against some tough competetion. And no - I don't mean Jim Gilmore! Just like the 1978 Steelers - Romney can compete against history, and win at Ames like nobody else has.

Last night I did a Google search on the Ames straw poll, and I found this article from 1999.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush won the Iowa Republican straw poll Saturday, capturing 7,418 votes and possibly taking his first big step toward becoming the 2000 GOP presidential nominee. [SNIP]

The number of votes Bush received was a record, but his winning percentage was not. The percentage was bested by Bush's father, former President George Bush, in the 1979 straw poll (35.7 percent) and by Pat Robertson in the 1987 straw poll (34 percent).

The highest that any candidate has managed to win at Ames is only 35.7%. Without McCain or Giuliani there, Romney should be able to beat that. My guess is that he can also beat George W. Bush's record of 7,418 votes. If he does, he would be the Ames record holder on both fronts. That would return some luster to the victory, I think.

-Jay Cost