Romney's Iowa win
In the wake of Romney's win in the Iowa staw-poll, the competition has gone into overdrive trying to diminish the results, (despite wishing that they had some results for others to diminish). Charlie Cook's latest column (via email, sorry) gives what I think is a "fair and balanced" assessment.
Not to mention the fact that McCain was having mucho dinero problems at that point....
Romney critics are quick to argue that besides beating a bunch of second-stringers, the top rivals for the nomination didn't compete. Romney also spent far and away the most money and there was a diminished turnout in Ames this year. According to the critics, these factors should take away from the luster of his victory.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Fred Thompson in fact did not compete in the straw poll. Giuliani and McCain both announced in early June that they would not participate. Thompson's oft-delayed entry into the race gives him a somewhat more plausible excuse, but still raises questions about his inability to get things going.To say, however, that Romney won because his most formidable rivals did not enter the ring conveniently ignores the fact that both had gone into the building, walked up and looked into the ring at the competition and decided to skip the fight instead. Giuliani and McCain, particularly the latter, had hired Iowa operatives and started putting together efforts early on. Then they opted not to compete. Those decisions were made after Romney began surging in Iowa, both in terms of polling and organizational activity. A glance at the graph of public polls among Iowa Republicans on pollster.com shows that beginning in the middle of last year, Romney began moving up in the polls. Since February, his movement has been significant while, at the same time, Giuliani and McCain have consistently dropped.
Ditto. A win is a win is a win. And any candidate (or candidate minions) who suggest that they wouldn't prefer to be in the same position if it were in any way possible, (costs and/or lack of all possible opposition included), well, they're lying.
Early on Romney invested heavily in organizational efforts (which is what the Iowa caucus is all about) and used television ads to make up for the name recognition disparity between himself and the two better-known front-runners. Giuliani and McCain didn't compete in the straw poll because they weren't doing well there, not because they decided it wasn't important and a waste of time and money. €¦
Historical data compiled by the Washington Post shows Romney's 31.5 percent ranks lower than former Vice President George H.W. Bush's 36 percent in 1987 and the Rev. Pat Robertson's 34 percent in 1991. However, it is touch above then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush's 31 percent in 1999 and the 1995 tie between former Sens. Robert Dole and Phil Gramm, who each garnered 24 percent. A 13.4-point margin is less than George H.W. Bush's 21-point win over former Texas Gov. John Connally in 1979, but more than George W. Bush's 10-point win over Steve Forbes in 1999, or Robertson's nine point win over Dole in 1987. In short, a 31.5 percent, 13.4-point margin in an 11-way field isn't too shabby by any historical measure. And it does seem a little cheesy for those who declined to get into the ring to attempt to devalue a win €¦Romney needed a big win to demonstrate that the early polls showing his lead among Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire was not an illusion and he got that win. Does it mean that the nomination is over? Of course not. But after one battle for votes, he's won one, and that's more than Giuliani or Fred Thompson can say. But there are many more battles to come.