U.S. Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann narrowly edges Ron Paul in Ames Straw Poll

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Presidential candidates at the Ames Straw Poll. From left: Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Thaddeus McCotter, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann
Image: IowaPolitics.com.

Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota narrowly defeated fellow Representative Ron Paul of Texas to win the nonbinding Ames Straw Poll on Saturday. The poll, held every four years in Ames, Iowa is used as a gauge of Republican candidate viability several months ahead of the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses. This year, nine candidates were listed on the ballot.

Bachmann, the first woman to ever win the poll, waged a high visibility campaign that benefited from persistent media coverage to win 4,823 of the 16,892 votes cast. Following the victory, she remarked to her supporters that "You have just sent a message that Barack Obama will be a one-term president."

Paul, who tripled his support from the 2007 poll with 4,671 votes, took advantage of an enthusiastic grassroots following. His campaign manager commented that the result proves he "is moving into the first tier" of candidates.

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, whose traditional ground-campaign approach did not work as effectively as expected, came in a disappointing third place with 2,293 votes. Politico felt the showing "may spell the end of his campaign", but Pawlenty argued that the campaign is "just beginning." He later withdrew from the race.

The fourth place finish of former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania was seen as a "moral victory" for the candidate since he did not receive as much media coverage as the others, and did not spend as much cash. He vowed to remain in the race, stating "We have a caucus strategy, not a straw poll strategy...I don’t think there is any question that what we did here today shows that we are building a base of support in Iowa."

Surprisingly, Texas governor Rick Perry, who entered the race on the same day as the poll, was not on the ballot but was still able to garner 718 write-in votes. That put him ahead of the Republican frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who was on the ballot but did not actively pursue the victory. He won the 2007 poll, but came in second to former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucuses.

Representative Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan, who paid $18,000 for campaign space, came in last place with 35 votes.

Results table

Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann with her husband
Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Tim Pawlenty
Tim Pawlenty with his family
Rick Santorum with his family
Rick Santorum with his family
Herman Cain
Herman Cain
Thaddeus McCotter
Candidate Votes Percentage
Michele Bachmann 4,823 28.55%
Ron Paul 4,671 27.65%
Tim Pawlenty 2,293 13.57%
Rick Santorum 1,657 9.81%
Herman Cain 1,456 8.62%
Rick Perry (write-in) 718 3.62%
Mitt Romney 567 3.36%
Newt Gingrich 385 2.28%
Jon Huntsman, Jr. 69 0.41%
Thaddeus McCotter 35 0.21%