Let's look back at butter cow territory history and see what Ames has produced in the past.
the first straw poll in 1979, most of the straws went to the
Kennebunkport-sculpted George H.W. Bush. Ronald Reagan came in 2nd.
Both of these guys were legitimate, possible contenders for the top GOP
slot, and the Ames poll did what it was supposed to do -- tried to sort
out for a Iowan Republicans a serious choice. While Bush did not win
the nomination ultimately, he was the real thing.
In 1983, no straw poll was needed as the GOP was solidly behind Reagan's reelection.
1987, Pat Robertson who often blames the gays, or feminists, or anyone
of a religion other than his own for big natural or unnatural disasters
-- as he did after 9/11 -- won the most straws. So, like Bachmann today
-- Ames produced an unlikely candidate, someone who really had no
chance of winning nationally. BUT, the #2 slot went to Bob Dole -- who
while he didn't win, was someone who legitimately could have won the
presidency. At least Ames got the equation half right.
Bob Dole and Phil Gramm won. Dole again was the real thing -- and while
I'm sure I'll get hate mail for this, Gramm was also someone, in
certain circumstances and with better organization, could have
eventually won the presidency. Problem was that Phil Gramm got in his
own way. Still, Ames was on a steady, reasoned course that year and the
outcome made sense.
In 1999, George W. Bush -- the man everyone
wanted to hang out at a barbecue with (or many folks anyway) -- swept
the straw poll. "W" won the presidency -- so that was a real vote of
confidence for Ames. Steve Forbes, who I believe never was a real
national-level option, placed 2nd -- illustrating yet again Iowa's
penchant for hanging together a real possibility for president along
with a pipe dream candidate.
In August 2007, Romney took the
straws with Mike Huckabee closely following. Again, from my personal
vantage point, both of these were legitimate candidates and could have
won nationally. In fact, if he were running today, I think Huckabee
would probably have kept Rick Perry from having the space to get in the
race and Bachmann would not have risen to the level she recently had.
something has gone wrong in Iowa. First place to Michele Bachmann --
someone I feel is not a real contender. Second place to Ron Paul -- who
while being the libertarian movement's most loved spear-carrier -- also
has no chance of winning nationally. And then 3rd went to Tim
Pawlenty, who was momentarily a national possibility but whose chances
cratered after the first GOP debate not to improve since. 4th place
went to Rick Santorum -- not a real possibility at a national level.
Shall I go on? The anti-Muslim Herman Cain, all but out of the race, came in 5th.
in 6th and 7th came Rick Perry and Mitt Romney -- who probably are
going to be the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton of this next GOP
primary contest. They were the ones that needed some sorting out in
Ames -- but the straw poll ducked them rather than milk the situation (sorry, couldn't help).
What does this say about Ames? About Iowa in general? About the butter milk cow centennial anniversary?
Well, at least tomorrow the buttermilk pancakes will still be great.