The Last Straw Bachmann Wins, Paul Second

So your Straw Poll winner is Michele Bachmann, with Ron Paul's army nipping at her heels

The results:

Bachmann 4,823

Paul 4,671

Tim Pawlenty 2,293

Rick Santorum 1,657

Herman Cain 1,456

Rick Perry 718

Mitt Romney 567

Newt Gingrich 385

John Huntsman 69

Thaddeus McCotter 35

Scattering 162

Yeah, you didn't have to have a doctorate in political science to see who was going to do well in Saturday's poll. Bachmann and Paul's supporters were everywhere. I did not feel the Santorumentum.

And that's how it turned out. Bachmann wins. Paul, who finished 5th in 2007, nearly pulled off the upset. The 16,892 votes cast is the second-most ever at the event, behind 23,000-plus in 1999.

"I've supported him since he was a libertarian. I became a Republican to support Ron Paul," said Griffin Woods, a Paul supporter from Bondurant. "He just basically follows the Constitution. So much of what the government does is unnecessary."

Bachmann's buses were plentiful and multiplied. Her golf carts, yea, they picked up many a weary traveler, walking afar from parking spots in the shadow of Jack Trice Stadium. They stood in line to get into her tent, then they stood in line to giver her their fake vote. A Bachmann turnout overdrive, perhaps. Yeah, sorry.

Assorted estimates floating through the barbecue smoke pegged Bachmann's vote-buying effort at 4,000 to 6,000 ballots. Turns out 4,000 was probably about right. Throw in Randy Travis, and it's winner winner.

"I believe in a lot of what she says. I think she's strong, strong personality," said Ann Ware of Osceola, a Bachmann backer who was standing in line, waiting to cast a straw ballot for the Minnesota congresswoman born in Iowa.

"God love you, every one," Bachmann said, on a day when she more than doubled up on tiny Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who she clashed with in Thursday's debate. This caucus campaign ain't big enough for the both of them. But Pawlenty probably did well enough to hang around a while.

"We are going to do it. It's going to happen...Iowa will be the pace car to set the tone, to set the pace," Bachmann said. "I've always been grateful I'm an Iowan."

But not everyone was falling in behind the Iowa straw poll pace car Saturday.

From the Post of Washington:

CHARLESTON, S.C.-Declaring that it is “time to get America working again,” Gov. Rick Perry officially declared his presidential candidacy Saturday, telling a crowd in this key primary state that he will run to challenge President Obama in 2012.

 In front of a crowd of 600 at the Francis Marion Hotel, Perry used his first speech as a candidate to brag about job creation in Texas under his leadership and argued he could dramatically improve the American economy if elected president.

“I do not accept the path that America is on…Because a renewed nation needs a renewed president,” Perry told the cheering crowd, declaring that it was “time to give a pink slip to the current White House.”

“I declare to you today as a candidate for president of the United States of America,” the he added.

And from Politico:

The Texas governor’s entry into the race is expected to reorder the field, rendering Saturday’s Ames Straw Poll results obsolete and providing a heavyweight alternative to Mitt Romney, the tenuous frontrunner. Perry’s candidacy most immediately imperils Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman whose appeal is similar to Perry’s—and who could find her surge quickly halted.

Obsolete? So soon.

Perry backers who came to the Straw Poll to write in the Texan's name were all T-shirts and no cattle. I assume his votes are among the "scattering." There was no separate Perry count announced.

Perry received 718 write-in votes, good for sixth. (Those results were announced some time after the initial results.)

So what's it all mean? It's huge, except it's not.

It means Bachmann remains the candidate to beat in Iowa, which we already knew, but Perry arrives today to contest for many of the same evangelical social conservative voters she's tapped for support this summer. Mitt Romney got 567 straw votes without showing up, good for 7th. But with Perry in, he may have to start showing up more. Perry is also a gubernatorial establishment type in today's GOP.

So it's Bachmann and Romney and Perry, the shiny hybrid with low miles. And a drawl.

And dammit, I though this straw poll was supposed to shrink this field. Unfortunately, we may not see the field dwindle all that much. The Straw Poll usually knocks a few out, but Pawlenty, Cain and Santorum gave no signs tonight of departures.

Thaddeus McCotter broke the string of impressive showings by guitar-gifted candidates, stretching back to Mike Huckabee in 2007. Huckabee, incidentally, was everywhere at the poll Saturday except the ballot.I've had enough. Post your thoughts.

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