Straw poll: make or break for some presidential candidates - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Straw poll could be make or break for some presidential candidates


It's official.  A suspected candidate for president is entering the race.  Texas Governor Rick Perry plans to make a White House bid.  His spokesman tells the Associated Press that Perry will announce his intentions to run Saturday when he visits South Carolina and New Hampshire.  He's scheduled to be in Iowa on Sunday at the Black Hawk County Republican Lincoln Dinner.

The announcement comes as several candidates will square off Thursday evening in a FOX News debate.  The debate of course is just two days ahead of the Iowa straw poll in Ames.  So how significant are the debate and straw poll for candidates?

The debate will be important to put each of the candidates in the national spotlight.  But Saturday's straw poll in Ames is really more about Iowans having their voices heard.  And for some candidates, the poll could be do or die for their campaigns.

Republican presidential hopefuls are crisscrossing Iowa hoping to secure as many straw poll votes as possible.  But many folks we talked with on the street aren't paying too much attention to all the political hubbub just yet.  And there may be a reason why:  the threat of big names like former VP candidate Sarah Palin, who will be in Iowa Friday, and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is expected to make his candidacy official Saturday.

"All of the talk about late entering candidates means those who are working hard now and are in the race are not getting as many supporters as they might otherwise.  We like to check out all the merchandise before we make a purchase.  And until we know who all is in the race, many Iowa Republicans are going to stay uncommitted," said Jeff Stein, KWWL political analyst.

But make no mistake--the straw poll will still be significant.  It's the first chance Iowans have to make their voices heard.

"Well if they're taxpayers, they probably should care a lot about it because it's the process to start to maybe correct things that aren't going correctly right now," said voter Rod Weikert.

And how many people cast ballots at the straw poll for a particular candidate could determine how much longer some candidates can stay in the race.

"Those who don't do terribly well Saturday probably can get around it through explaining that they didn't put a lot of effort into it.  If you're Tim Pawlenty or Rick Santorum, though, you do need to do well Saturday in Iowa, in addition to the debate, in order to still say that you are a major national player," Stein said.

And a big win by any candidate at the straw poll could help boost their fundraising efforts, helping keep his or her campaign going as we approach the Iowa caucus.

While the straw poll does carry some weight, it's also important to note that straw poll votes don't necessarily translate into actual votes in the Iowa caucus or November election.  Take for example Mitt Romney, who won the straw poll in the 2008 campaign but didn't end up securing his party's presidential nomination.

Schedule for Iowa Straw Poll:

August 13, 2011

9 a.m. Gates Open

10 a.m. Voting Begins

12 p.m. Program Begins

4 p.m. Voting Closes

In order to vote in the Iowa Straw Poll, one must be at least 18 years of age on or before November 2012 and a resident of the state of Iowa.  The Iowa Straw Poll is a Republican event.  The Democratic Party does not organize a straw poll.

Straw Poll Ballot

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann

Herman Cain

Congressman Thaddeus McCotter

Congressman Ron Paul

Governor Tim Pawlenty

Senator Rick Santorum

Speaker Newt Gingrich

Governor Jon Huntsman

Governor Mitt Romney

Write-in option

Speaking Schedule

12:15- Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn delivers remarks

12:20- Governor Terry Branstad delivers remarks

12:30- Chairman Strawn welcomes all candidates on stage (press shot)

12:40- Senator Rick Santorum delivers remarks

1:00- Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds delivers remarks

1:15- Congressman Ron Paul delivers remarks

1:40- Congressman Steve King delivers remarks

1:50- Governor Tim Pawlenty delivers remarks

2:10- Senator Chuck Grassley delivers remarks

2:20- Congresswoman Michele Bachmann delivers remarks

2:40- Congressman Tom Latham delivers remarks

2:50- Congressman Thaddeus McCotter delivers remarks

3:15- Herman Cain delivers remarks

Straw poll voting closes at 4 p.m.  Chairman Matt Strawn will deliver the results on stage immediately after they've been tabulated.

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