Hard to Believe, but we are now only 3 days away from the Ames Straw poll. While the early start and lack of major candidates at the poll has severely reduced its importance, Ames could still be a turning point. For one, if things play out as expected, Mitt Romney could be propelled even higher in the national polls by the positive press. Romney is now only about 9% behind the lead, and is already leading in some of the early states.
The bigger effect of Ames, however, could be within the “second tier”. Many candidates, such as Sam Brownback, have made Ames a Primary focus of the campaign. At least one candidate, Tommy Thompson, has gone a step further – declaring that he will drop out if he does not finish within the top three. This will be beneficial to the party, by eliminating some of those who have little chance of winning, and allowing more time in debates for the more serious candidates.
The race is starting to heat up. As we get closer to the primaries, debates will become more frequent, and it will be interesting to see how a smaller, more serious, crop of candidates responds in the new environment. Hopefully, the extended amount of time that each candidate will have to speak will encourage more serious and detailed discussion on important issues. I think its time to cut through the less important parts of a candidate’s record (family, religion, etc.), and focus on what really matters (Iraq, taxes, abortion, immigration).