2012 Dropout Watch: Pawlenty Campaign Looks Bleak

Poll numbers steadily dropping ahead of must-win poll

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Earlier this month, we wondered who would be the first 2012 contender to drop out of the race. Tim Pawlenty is looking like a pretty good candidate. A new national poll of Republican voters puts the former Minnesota governor at 5 percent, Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen explains. That's down from 9 percent in June and 13 percent in May. Obviously, it's "not a good trajectory."

Pawlenty will be spending 20 days in the next few weeks riding around Iowa in an RV, visiting towns that are mostly within 100 miles of Ames. That city is the site of an August 13 straw poll crucial to the Pawlenty campaign's survival. With frontrunner Mitt Romney skipping Iowa, Pawlenty has to have a strong showing there. He's pouring tons of money into Iowa--$437,000 on advertising so far. But fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann is killing him in the state. Ron Paul has won several early straw polls, The Wall Street Journal's Patrick O'Connor and Danny Yadron observe, and if Bachmann wins Ames, Paul could take second, putting Pawlenty at third.
But Business Insider's John Ellis says winning won't be as hard for Pawlenty as it looks right now. Looking at Ames turnout over the years, Ellis estimates about 20,000 activists will show up to vote in the straw poll. That means one candidate has to win 6,000 votes. With Sarah Palin, Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Perry not competing, that looks a little easier. Ellis explains:
He needs to do 100 events in 100 different places where he picks up the support of at least 5 people who will works their hearts out on his behalf. If those 500 people can bring 10 friends and associates to the Iowa Straw Poll, Pawlenty will have his 5000 votes.  If he can only get 250 people to bring 10 of their friends and associates, he's done.
Sounds easy enough, no? Except Pawlenty seems to have a little trouble when it comes to the political hand-to-hand combat of making people like you. Jan van Lohuizen, who served as George W. Bush's pollster in both his presidential campaigns, told Ellis that Pawlenty's politicking style leaves something to be desired:
He is utterly lacking in charisma. I usually avoid these, but I agreed to speak at a regional organizing meeting for the party in Minnesota just to see him speak: he was utterly boring and I decided not to pitch his campaign. At a cocktail reception for the event, attended by 125+ activists, he and his wife were standing by themselves--no one was interested in talking to him and he made no effort to work the crowd.  
The first presidential campaign, I worked for John Connally’s; at an event like this one 120 of 125 attendees would have been all over him and he would have found the remaining 5.  And Connally got 1 delegate, but in fairness he was running against Ronald Reagan. 
So maybe the five new friends in 100 cities thing might prove tricky after all.
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