Why the Gathering is More Important Than the Straw Poll

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 13, 2011

My former blogging colleagues at RedState are all a-twitter regarding the get-together (known as the Gathering) that they have organized, and the fact that Texas Governor Rick Perry will be announcing to them his candidacy for President of the United States. And well they should be; Perry will be a formidable contender. He is very savvy and wily, he has an instinctive grasp of where the Republican party is on the issues of the day, and he is a personable man who enjoys campaigning, and indeed, has never lost an election. His announcement to the RedState Gathering shows just how big a deal the Gathering is, and the fact that Perry’s candidacy has drawn so much media attention shows how big a deal his campaign could turn out to be.

Compare and contrast all of this with the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa which . . . well . . . read:

Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert is openly trying to cause trouble, running television ads urging Iowans, “On August 13th write in Rick Parry — That’s Parry with an ‘A’ for America, with an ‘A’ for IowA.”

For most, a joke candidacy isn’t the concern — “Considering you have to buy tickets, it’s highly unlikely there will be any Mickey Mouses and Donald Ducks,” said Cory Adams, chair of the Story County GOP.

However, an effort on behalf of Rick Perry, who’ll be announcing his candidacy on Saturday and is expected to draw write-in support, might cause issues of its own.

Sarah Palin, who arrived in Iowa on Friday despite remaining coy about her candidacy, is also expected to get some write-in votes, even without an organized effort.

The write-in ballots are set to be counted by hand by volunteers from the Secretary of State’s Office.

[. . .]

This week, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad warned against Democratic caucus crashers who could try to game the Iowa selection system by picking the weakest Republican candidate to face off against President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Des Moines radio host and former Democratic state legislator Ed Fallon has been calling on Democrats and Independents to switch their political affiliation and participate in the 2012 GOP caucuses.

But for the straw poll, Iowans don’t even need to be registered Republicans. So if Democrats want to fork over $30 for the Iowa GOP’s biggest fundraiser, there’s no stopping them from crashing.

I guess I don’t understand the value or worth of a political event that is so prone to dirty tricks. I don’t doubt that the Ames Straw Poll has been influential in the past. I just don’t know why it should be. The real, authentic action in the Republican party isn’t in Iowa, today. It is in Charleston, where the RedState Gathering is located, and where a serious contender for the Presidency of the United States has decided it is important to make his presence felt.

  • Anonymous

    The Straw Poll isn’t important.  It’s supposed to be a fun way candidates can help the Iowa GOP raise money.  It isn’t intended to be anything but that. 

    24/7/365 media (yourself included) make it more than it should be.  And as a result, the candidates are under pressure to do well to avoid any “dead man walking” reportage after the event, which becomes the self fulfilling prophesy.

    It isn’t that it used to be an important event.  It never was anything more than it is today.  It’s just covered different.

    Rick Perry is pretty smart for recognizing that stroking conservative blogger’s egos at the Gathering would get him more mileage at this stage than trying to race to create a presence at the Iowa Straw Poll.  Even Pejman seems to have fallen for it, LOL!

    • Anonymous

      I don’t quite know how I “fell for it,” seeing as how I haven’t endorsed Perry, and wasn’t even at the Gathering. Also, if you read my post, you will see that I am arguing that the straw poll should not matter, so I don’t know why you think that I am trying to make something of it.

Previous post:

Next post: