Tim Pawlenty Hoping For Turnaround From Ames Straw Poll

Tim Pawlenty’s Presidential campaign has essentially made the Ames Straw Poll a make-or-break event for the candidate:

If former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s (R) campaign is going to rebound, the candidate’s betting it begins next weekend at the Ames, Iowa straw poll.

Pawlenty hasn’t called the influential gathering of Iowans a make-or-break moment for his campaign, but he’s staked a great deal of political capital on the daylong event, where a poor showing threatens to cripple his floundering bid for the White House.

The former Minnesota governor’s campaign has encountered difficulty improving his standing in polls, even in the Hawkeye State, where Pawlenty’s spent the bulk of his time and efforts trying to win next February’s caucuses.

And, a week out from the straw poll, where likely caucus goers participate in a straw poll that provides an indicator of the state’s preference in a nominee, Pawlenty is projecting confidence.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for Pawlenty, either. His campaign faces perceived financial problems following a second quarter fundraising report that failed to meet expectations; some top aides are working for the Pawlenty campaign either for free, or for a meager salary.

To that end, the Pawlenty campaign’s poured thousands into radio and TV ads leading up to the straw poll, though those spots will come off the air days before the straw poll, so the campaign can focus its resources on turnout and the straw poll itself.

Pawlenty has been under performing in the polls from the beginning, and has never been able to get a boost to put him in the same category as candidates like Romney and Bachmann, or potential candidates like Rick Perry. Absent an outright win or a strong second, it’s going to be hard for him to maintain a credible campaign.

Pawlenty does have the advantage of an apparently strong on-the-ground operation in Iowa, but so does Bachmann, and nobody should rule out a surprise showing by Ron Paul, who has shown an uncanny ability to get his supporters to come to straw poll events and vote for him. If Pawlenty is outshined by either or these two, or by Romney who is barely paying attention to Ames, then he’ll have serious problems.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.