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Pawlenty Quits After Third-Place Straw Poll Finish

"so long" photo by Gage Skidmore

Tim Pawlenty, the former two-term governor of Minnesota, has ended his campaign for President after a disappointing third-place finish at the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa. Pawlenty wound up a distant third behind the winner, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul.

Pawlenty’s candidacy was very much predicated on winning Iowa, a neighboring state to Minnesota. He hoped the momentum from that early victory would slingshot into other states. He spent months in Iowa and put up the first TV ads of any candidate there. But he never gained traction, either there or nationally.

With Pawlenty’s exit and Rick Perry’s entrance, we can now see the Republican Presidential race come into focus. Basically, it’s a three-way fight between Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Perry. Romney finished in seventh place in the straw poll, behind Bachmann, Paul, Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Perry, who wasn’t even an official contestant. But Romney didn’t really compete in the straw poll, and he basically has conceded Iowa to the candidates who appeal to social issues to a greater degree. Bachmann has to be seen as the favorite now in Iowa, although Perry could compete there as well. Romney appears to have a lock on New Hampshire. Then there’s South Carolina. If Bachmann took Iowa and Perry South Carolina, with Romney doing well in the likely early state of Michigan and the Nevada caucus, you could see a three-person race that extends well past the winter.

One wild-card could be the strength of Ron Paul, who did far better this year than in the Ames straw poll in 2007. To increase his share of the vote among social conservatives, Paul tried to tailor his libertarian message to evangelicals in the state:

(Spokesman Doug) Wead told POLITICO that the outreach included mailing 5,000 DVDs of Paul to pastors in Iowa before Saturday’s events. And it relied heavily on a new team of evangelicals who are backing Paul. They include Wead himself and also Brian Jacobs, who used to work with Rev. Billy Graham. Jacobs spent the days before the Straw Poll calling pastors throughout Iowa.

And when their candidate took the stage to speak to the reporters and the crowd assembled in the arena here, his opening remarks weren’t about the Fed or monetary policy or anything that referenced the “sliding dollar,” as the children’s play slide outside his tent was labeled.

Instead, he talked about abortion.

Liberty!

The question is whether Paul has a ceiling of Republican support statewide and nationwide, which doesn’t show in these intensely local straw polls, where he always seems to do well.

Looks like a three-person race at this point, barring any other entries.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Pawlenty Quits After Third-Place Straw Poll Finish

Tim Pawlenty, the former two-term governor of Minnesota, has ended his campaign for President after a disappointing third-place finish at the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa. Pawlenty wound up a distant third behind the winner, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul.

Pawlenty’s candidacy was very much predicated on winning Iowa, a neighboring state to Minnesota. He hoped the momentum from that early victory would slingshot into other states. He spent months in Iowa and put up the first TV ads of any candidate there. But he never gained traction, either there or nationally.

With Pawlenty’s exit and Rick Perry’s entrance, we can now see the Republican Presidential race come into focus. Basically, it’s a three-way fight between Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Perry. Romney finished in seventh place in the straw poll, behind Bachmann, Paul, Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Perry, who wasn’t even an official contestant. But Romney didn’t really compete in the straw poll, and he basically has conceded Iowa to the candidates who appeal to social issues to a greater degree. Bachmann has to be seen as the favorite now in Iowa, although Perry could compete there as well. Romney appears to have a lock on New Hampshire. Then there’s South Carolina. If Bachmann took Iowa and Perry South Carolina, with Romney doing well in the likely early state of Michigan and the Nevada caucus, you could see a three-person race that extends well past the winter.

One wild-card could be the strength of Ron Paul, who did far better this year than in the Ames straw poll in 2007. To increase his share of the vote among social conservatives, Paul tried to tailor his libertarian message to evangelicals in the state:

(Spokesman Doug) Wead told POLITICO that the outreach included mailing 5,000 DVDs of Paul to pastors in Iowa before Saturday’s events. And it relied heavily on a new team of evangelicals who are backing Paul. They include Wead himself and also Brian Jacobs, who used to work with Rev. Billy Graham. Jacobs spent the days before the Straw Poll calling pastors throughout Iowa.

And when their candidate took the stage to speak to the reporters and the crowd assembled in the arena here, his opening remarks weren’t about the Fed or monetary policy or anything that referenced the “sliding dollar,” as the children’s play slide outside his tent was labeled.

Instead, he talked about abortion.

Liberty!

The question is whether Paul has a ceiling of Republican support statewide and nationwide, which doesn’t show in these intensely local straw polls, where he always seems to do well.

Looks like a three-person race at this point, barring any other entries.

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David Dayen

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