Let's disregard the maliciously categorical media hype. Consider a few facts: MSNBC.com 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......