Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ames Straw Poll....the party's over

If you don't know Michelle Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll on Aug. 13, well......gimme a call and tell me how you managed to avoid knowing it, just for my future reference...
Let's disregard the maliciously categorical media hype. Consider a few facts: published the first vote totals I could find online after the "polls" closed:

16,892 Iowans turned out (and paid $30) to vote for their favorite Republican presidential candidate.
4,823 of them, led by enthusiastic BBQ-and-Randy Travis fans, voted for Michelle Bachmann to give her the win.
There are approximately 2.3 million Iowa residents of legal voting age, so another way to think about this is: for every Bachmann supporter at the Straw Poll event, there are about 476 Iowans who didn't show up to vote for her.
Merely two-tenths of 1 per cent of the potential statewide Iowa electorate decided that Bachmann was the GOP frontrunner as of Aug. 13. (Don't read this if you have a weak heart: imagine that President Obama had won the White House in 2008 with about 475,000 votes nationwide.....)
The Ames Straw Poll is not democracy in action. It is embarrassingly consequential entertainment at an American heartland event that should be realistically and only trivially regarded as a good old-fashioned political fundraiser with good BBQ and good music......

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Ames Straw Poll...democracy it ain't

Just the facts, m'am, just the facts......the Ames Straw Poll is open to any resident of Iowa (or student at an Iowa college/university) who likes barbecue, is at least 16 and 1/2 years old, can get to Iowa State University on Aug. 13, and can pay the $30 entry fee.  Republican candidates and their campaign organizations can recruit Straw Poll participants throughout the state and pay their expenses. In 2007 there were approximately 2.25 million Iowans of legal voting age. In the 2007 Straw Poll, a total of 14,302 Iowans voted for their Republican presidential pick:  Mitt Romney, the winner, received 4,516 votes.............John McCain, the ultimate GOP presidential candidate, received 101 votes.
The Ames Straw Poll doesn't even remotely resemble an election. The unfastidious and perniciously indiscriminate news media transform the Straw Poll from an all-American political BBQ event in Iowa to a national Punch & Judy show without the redeeming slapstick. It is not a hallmark of democracy.