Obligatory: Jeb to skip Iowa straw poll

Obligatory: Jeb to skip Iowa straw poll

[Ed. – Yeah, yeah, yeah.]

The Ames straw poll is one of the most depressing events of the primary circus, a process better known for blowing up good candidates on the launchpad than for launching them to national success. Romney won it in 2007 and ended up losing to Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucuses; his campaign didn’t last past CPAC the following year. Michele Bachmann won it in 2011, a devastating blow to Tim Pawlenty’s nascent campaign, and was back to being a single-digit candidate within two months. Even the state’s Republican governor, Terry Branstad, acknowledged after the 2012 election that it’s little more than a fundraising scam for the Iowa GOP whose usefulness faded ages ago. Romney learned his lesson after 2007 that the straw poll is no predictor of success in the caucuses and chose to skip it in 2011. He ended up finishing seventh in the poll — but came within 34 votes of beating Rick Santorumin the caucuses five months later. There’s little upside to winning the poll, in other words, and lots of downside to finishing badly and having to endure the sort of naysaying that drove T-Paw from the race before a single ballot was cast. Jeb Bush looked at all that and realized, quite logically, that he’s better off ignoring it and focusing on the caucuses instead. …

In fact, I wonder if there’s anyone — anyone — in this thousand-man field who’d actually benefit from competing in the straw poll this time. Even Huckabee and Walker, who’d stand to do well, recognize the relative upside and downside of competing and are hedging about it. Typically a guy like Ben Carson would be a perfect fit since winning the poll would bring him some attention within the state, but even Carson stands to lose more than he’ll gain if he competes and loses.

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