Both the Rudy Giuliani and John McCain presidential campaigns announced that their candidates would not be taking part in the August 11 Iowa straw poll. The straw poll is a traditional measure of candidate strength, and often predicts how well they will fare in the January caucuses. The GOP straw poll has been held since 1979, and no candidate who skipped it has ever gone on to win in Iowa. The Giuliani camp said, “We are 100 percent committed to winning the Iowa caucuses in January.” After Giuliani bailed McCain followed suit, because they said without Giuliani, “it’s clear that the Ames straw poll will not be a meaningful test of the leading candidates’ organizational abilities.”

This means that Mitt Romney might be the winner by default. “I just got a win of sorts, with the two national front-runners realizing they couldn’t keep up with me in the first state in the presidential sweepstakes,” Romney told the AP. “Their backing out makes me feel 10 feet tall. They read the handwriting on the wall and are packing up their tents and going elsewhere. This is a huge boost for me and my team. This will energize my team from across the country to realize this campaign is winning and is winning early.” The straw poll is an Iowa GOP fundraiser and it can be very expensive for candidates to participate. The validity of the poll is weakened somewhat because participation isn’t limited to Republicans. Anyone who buys a ticket can participate in the poll.

There are a few things that can be inferred from this development. First Romney has a strong organization, and he will have no problem turning out his supporters. Second, McCain is struggling in Iowa both in fundraising and organization. I think this decision was made in part due to the slow fundraising start that the McCain campaign has had. His campaign might not be able to afford to spend the extra money on a meaningless poll. Third, due to the front loaded primary system, candidates are going to be less willing to spend extravagantly in small states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Traditionally, these two used to be the states that could make or break a campaign, but with the big delegate prize of Florida also now voting in January, a loss in either of the first two states doesn’t mean as much as it used to. The Romney campaign should be happy, but they must remember that Iowa does not win them a presidential nomination. In fact, it may not win them anything.

Quotes taken from this AP article.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at  blog radio 

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