With Iowa straw voters behind us, what's next for the GOP candidates; and does the media determine outcomes?
(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)
JB: Put away the fried butter, boss, Iowa is behind us.
BE: Yeah, that straw vote sure got a lot of attention for, what? Fewer than 17,000 votes in a nation of 311 million?
JB: Media's fault.
BE: Media can mean something, eh?
JB: I guess. There's a group called High Beam Research that tracks media attention, then measures it against outcomes. It found, for example, that going into the straw vote weekend Michele Bachmann led all candidates with media mentions and she, of course, won.
BE: So mentions mean victory?
JB: Could be. Last Friday, the day after the Ames GOP debate, High Beam said the most mentions of candidates taking part in the straw poll went to Bachmann and Ron Paul.
BE: And Paul finished a close second.
JB: A fact that (a) got lost in the hoopla of Texas Gov. Rick Perry getting in the race, and (b) tells you how important and predictive the Iowa straw poll really is.
BE: But it did get rid of Pawlenty.
JB: Yeah, well, Mr. Excitment had pa-lenty of reasons to leave, even though he finished third. Here's a look at the final tally for those who actually have lives and things to do on weekends who might have missed it.
BE: My man Santorum came in fourth!
JB: With a staggering 1,657 votes, or 9.8% of the total.
BE: RUN, RICK, RUN!
JB: I'd remind you Pawlenty came in ahead of Santorum and dropped out of the race.
BE: Rick's not a quitter. Wait til those upcoming debates. Nobody can make headline-grabbing outrageous statements like Rick.
JB: Well, he'll have pa-lenty of opportunity. There are FIVE debates between early September and mid-October: two in California, one each in New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada.
BE: I'll bet that winnows the field.
JB: Key will be what Perry does. Mitt Romney says he's in for all five debates. Bachmann's in for at least the first three. Perry's keeping his power dry.
BE: What about Santorum?
JB: Let it go, boss.