Minnesota Republican and general wolf-in-Holly Golightly's clothing Michele Bachmann won yesterday's famed Iowa Straw Poll, narrowly defeating challenger Ron Paul and leaving the rest of the competition in the dust. While her campaign's celebrating what it claims is a decisive victory on Bachmann's quest to be the first woman to serve as President, results of the Iowa Straw Poll rarely indicate that a candidate will be successful on election day, or even emerge from primary season with the party's nomination.
The Straw Poll itself is one of America's silliest traditions, combining carnivals, politics, wordplay, standing around inside of tents, funnel cakes and giant inflatable slides. Candidates bid on booth space within the Straw Poll grounds and fill their designated area with entertainment, fried things, and talking points. This year, Michele Bachmann included country singer Randy Travis in her booth (because nothing says "Christian theocracy" like twangy vocals), and kooky sitcom neighbor Ron Paul allowed children who attended to slide down an inflatable contraption called "The Sliding Dollar," which sounds like a bouncy castle, but with more whackadoo economics. Attendees pay a fee to attend the Straw Poll and are allowed to vote for one of the candidates that's exhibiting, or write in a candidate. Voters are required to be legal residents of Iowa and at least 16 1/2 years old and can be any political affiliation.
And yesterday, through all of the barbecuing and hee hawing and g droppin', Bachmann emerged with 28.55% of the vote, besting the second place finisher (Nutty Uncle Ron, future Ralph Nader of the right!) by less than a percentage point.
After the victory, Bachmann crowed,
I want to thank Ron Paul and the people of Iowa. What we saw happen today is the very first step in taking the White House in 2012, and saying to Barack Obama ‘You'll be a one-term president.
She added that this was "a down payment on taking our country back."
With Our Country solidly on layaway, Bachmann will continue to kick her campaign into high gear. But before you find yourself having nightmares about her delivering the State of the Union, take heart in the fact that the Ames Straw Poll often means approximately shit.
Since the Ames Straw Poll started in 1979 as a way to take Iowans' pulse on potential Republican Presidential nominees, only once has its winner gone on to win the presidency (George W Bush in 1999), and only twice has it predicted who would get the Republican nomination. Only three times has it predicted who would win the Iowa Caucus.
Nonetheless, Bachmann is proud of voters from her home state. The Iowa State Daily reports that she remarked,
In Iowa, we are social conservatives, and we will never be ashamed of being social conservative."
Which is kind of funny considering the fact that Iowa legalized the decidedly un-socially conservative gay marriage over a year before the liberal pinko commie elite America-hating sodomy endorsing New York did the same.
Regardless of the Straw Poll's poor track record, Bachmann's victory improves her campaign's ability to raise money and further raises her profile as primary season approaches. She's going to be everywhere, at least for the next several months, and we can choose to get used to it or pull a Pawlenty and drop out.
Is this hell? No, it's Iowa.
Straw Woman [Slate]
Recapping the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll [Iowa State Daily]
Image via AP