Money may not matter as much to IA voters as face time - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Money may not matter as much to IA voters as face time


Getting your name noticed in what's becoming a crowded Republican presidential race, may come down to how much money you can raise.  So far, contenders are struggling to keep pace with GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.  Romney has raised more than $18 million in the last quarter.  That's while Ron Paul has pulled in just $4.5 million, Tim Pawlenty $4.2 million, Jon Huntsman $41. million, Herman Cain $2.5 million, and Newt Gingrich $2 million.  Other candidates have yet to release their fundraising totals.

So just how much does fundraising translate into votes?

Well certainly raising a lot of money can help you raise your profile, with extensive travel and advertising.  But here in Iowa, how much cash is in your political bank, may not matter as much to voters as face time.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum drummed up support for his presidential campaign in Cedar Falls Wednesday night.  It's one of several stops Santorum has made to the Cedar Valley.  With less name recognition than some of his fellow competitors, the former Congressman knows face time with Iowa voters is important.

"No one's out here pounding the pavement and meeting more people and developing relationships.  And you know, ultimately, I think that's going to be the key.  Iowa is a caucus state, so you've got to make those connections," Santorum said.

And some political analysts say that kind of exposure, greeting voters one-on-one, is part of the formula candidates with smaller budgets have to use to be successful.

"It comes down to you're going to have to maximize your dollars through the internet, and you're going to have to get as much free media coverage as possible," said Ramona McNeal, UNI political science professor.

Meanwhile, candidates with bigger budgets, like Mitt Romney, do hold a distinct advantage in being able to draw attention and money from large special interest groups.  Still, when it comes to winning votes for the upcoming Iowa straw poll and caucus, how much money a candidate has raised may not be significant.

"Iowans have a history of voting for people that they meet, not just once, but two and three times.  So a candidate that does not spend enough time in the state, in the view of the voters, is not going to do well--no matter how much money they may spend in the state," said KWWL political analyst Jeff Stein.

And for now, that's what candidates like Rick Santorum are banking on.

And in case you don't think there are enough Republicans running for president just yet, experts say it's not unlikely that additional candidates will get into the race later this year.


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