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August 15, 2011

Does The Ames Straw Poll Mean Palin Isn't Running?

This is my theory. I wouldn't bet my life on it or anything. But it's something that occurred to me.

I know that Palin supporters aren't going to like the theory.

But, here it is:

Palin has for some time been sounding, to me, like someone who would be willing to run, to fill a vacuum, if no good conservative ran, and if the party wished her to run.

In Iowa, she debuted the documentary Undefeated, but didn't announce a run. She showed up in Iowa on Friday, just before the straw poll, but didn't announce a run.

It's my thought that she wasn't announcing a run, but keeping her name out there in people's minds, to remind them that she could serve, if people asked it of her.

Not a declaration, then, but a softer expression of willingness to run, if she were needed.

But even though the Ames straw poll permitted a write-in result, Palin's name was apparently marked only on less than 35 ballots, at most.

The results of the Iowa Republican straw poll of August 13 are: (1) Michelle Bachmann 4,823; (2) Ron Paul 4,671; (3) Tim Pawlenty 2,293; (4) Rick Santorum 1,657; (5) Herman Cain 1,456; (6) Rick Perry 718 (write-in); (7) Mitt Romney 567; (8) Newt Gingrich 385; (9) Jon Huntsman 69; (10) Thad McCotter 35. There were another 162 scattering votes.

I assume that if Palin's write-ins exceeded Thad McCotter's, she'd be listed in the top ten, so I assume she must have gotten less than 35. Even if I'm wrong on that, she definitely got 162 votes or less (the number of "scattering" votes).

Now Rick Perry had a big advantage over Palin as far as vote-getting -- he declared the day of the straw poll, and furthermore, he had made it increasingly plain all this past week he would declare on Saturday.

Still, he placed 6 in write-ins with 718 -- despite not being an officially declared candidate until just before the polling had begun. Palin, by comparison, did not receive enough votes to appear as a name on the list.

Oh: Perry did have a disadvantage, too -- Rep. King suggested that Perry should be punished for attempting to bigfoot the Ames results.

If my theory is right -- and again, this is just a theory -- then Palin was looking to Iowa to see if there would be a groundswell of support for her, even as an undeclared (but available and weighing options) candidate, and there was no such groundswell, so this would count in her mind as a sign that 2012 isn't her year.

Not that Palin is talking like she's decided against a run.

Sarah Palin has left Iowa, her “One Nation” bus tour stopping in Saturday at the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan in Dixon, Ill., but looking back on her whirlwind visit to the Iowa State Fair on Friday, and some comments she made in response to reporters, it seems she is not just stringing her indecision out for fun and fame. She appears to be weighing her options and believes that the rules of timing and engagement do not apply to her.

“Each campaign that I have ever run in these 20 years of elective office have been kind of unconventional, right, Todd? We’ve always been outspent, two-to-one, five-to-one, 10-to-one. Never won any polls heading into election night. But usually won the election. So it would be unconventional and very grass roots.”

She threw a "mild barb" at Perry:

“See, this is what I don’t understand about the press,” Palin said. “You asked me ‘What’s the difference between your experience as a governor and Rick Perry’s?’ and I said there’s two different forms of government in the state of Alaska and in the state of Texas. Alaska has a very powerful executive position. Texas, it’s not as powerful. That doesn’t mean he’s doing a better job or worse job than any other governor, including myself. It just means it’s different.”

Well, come on, it's saying he didn't have much power in Texas.

She also emphasized that Bachmann's win (and Paul's place) was due to simple organizational strength in the state -- an investment of time and, of course, money (which she also emphasized itself) they had put in to winning the straw poll, which she did not. (She didn't say she didn't, but that is self-evident.)

Even if you don't buy my theory, obviously a strong Palin showing in the write-ins would have been a positive signal to her, so at the very least she didn't get that positive signal.

Even if you don't think the results reduced the odds Palin will run, at least it must be conceded that a strong write-in showing could have increased those odds, but failed to do so.

Explanation? This may explain the purpose of her bus tour, which seemed to be engineered to heighten/maintain her relevance in the mix of possible candidates.

She didn't announce or anything, but did seem to be trying to increase her profile. It seemed like a campaign event, but absent a campaign.

If my theory is right, then the bus tour would be an example of her stealth strategy of not declaring, but offering herself to the public; if the public demanded her candidacy, or nominated her (as the old way went) by acclaim, she'd run.

But if that's the case, then her experiment with candidacy-by-acclaim does not seem to be yielding the results she hoped for.

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posted by Ace at 04:26 PM

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