After Rudy Giuliani announced he would be skipping the Iowa Ames straw poll this summer, John McCain has now indicated he too will not participate. Campaign manager Terry Nelson said, “It is clear that the Ames Straw Poll will not be a meaningful test of the leading candidates’ organizational abilities, so we have decided to forego our participation in the event. In the 2000 election, McCain passed over the straw poll and Iowa caucus entirely. Fred Thompson is also expected to pass over the event. However, Mitt Romney will still participate, with spokesman Kevin Madden bragging, “Looks like we beat those guys two months earlier than we planned to.”
With three of the top four candidates not competing, the straw poll has been effectively reduced to irrelevancy. The Iowa Republican party has expressed its displeasure with the recent turn of events, hitting especially hard on Giuliani. The party released a statement, saying the following:
“The Republican Party of Iowa is disappointed over his decision, but more so over his lackluster campaign efforts in Iowa. Giuliani’s efforts in the Hawkeye State have also been disappointing for many Iowans who have not had the opportunity to see, hear, meet or question the former New York Mayor. The Straw Poll would have been an opportunity for Giuliani to show Iowans he is engaged, cares about Iowans’ issues and is 100 percent dedicated to Iowa. ”
With Romney the only major candidate left, it remains to be seen the level of intensity he puts into his effort. A huge win will likely be dampened by the absence of the other top candidates. Also, the straw poll requires a huge investment to compete in and win, and money is increasingly a precious commodity in the race. With over twenty states holding primaries on February 5th, candidates need significant amounts of money to successfully compete. Money likely played a factor in McCain’s decision after his poor first-quarter fundraising and affected Giuliani’s as well.