Iowans are wrapping up nearly a week of major political events. But how has all the politicking impacted the 2012 Presidential race?
Here's our take on the week-in-review: making sure you know who's in, who's out, who's on top, and who needs to come back swinging.
Starting with Saturday: the Ames Straw Poll. Michele Bachmann wins, Ron Paul comes in a close second. But somehow, his near-victory doesn't have the media impact one might expect.
"It's certainly noteworthy. But in the past he hasn't sustained that to win a caucus or win a big primary state. So until he gets that first big victory, any second place finish by him will be seen as more of the usual," said UNI Associate Professor of Political Science, Chris Larimer.
Meanwhile, Rick Perry announces his intentions -- stealing a little thunder from the Saturday event in Ames.
With Perry in, on Sunday Tim Pawlenty decides to pull out.
"Tim Pawlenty had that traditional campaign style, but you had bigger personalities with Rick Perry and also Michele Bachmann in the race that are energizing voters and getting people thinking about -- do we have a chance at actually winning the White House?" explained Larimer.
The same day in Waterloo, Perry and Bachmann share the spotlight with Rick Santorum -- who is struggling to maintain his viability as a candidate.
"Rick Perry immediately enters the race ahead of Santorum, I don't think there's much question about that. And so I think there's a tough road ahead for the Santorum campaign," Larimer said.
Not to be outdone, President Obama heads to the Midwest for a three-day tour, beginning Monday. He draws large crowds.. but are they there to support a 2012 candidate, or simply to see a president?
"You know, a lot of his support was from first-time voters and young voters. And there's always the question -- how long are those effects going to stay in place. Is this a case where people vote once and then drop off, or will they become engaged and stay engaged?" Larimer questioned.
Sarah Palin is set to speak in Waukee over Labor Day weekend. Larimer said, he doesn't think she'll announce her bid for the White House at the much-anticipated event. He believes there are too many other similar-minded candidates -- like Perry and Bachmann -- and it would be hard for her to gain the support she would need to run.
Larimer said, expect to see Bachmann, Perry, Paul, and Romney top February's Iowa caucus. From there, the Republican Party will need to figure out which of these candidates can win over independent voters.
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