The first actual genuine votes for the Republican presidential nomination won’t be cast until early next year, but an earlier vote is on the calendar for 8/13/11 – that’s the Ames Straw Poll. And rising candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is buying television time in advance of that event.
Bachmann is stressing her Iowa roots in the ad, and it marks the first television flight of her campaign. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has already plied Iowa airwaves.
The Ames Straw Poll is a Republican-only event held on a Saturday in August the year before a presidential election. Its value as a predictor is questionable — George W. Bush won it in 1999, but in 2007, Mitt Romney took it, and Mike Huckabee established his bona fides with a second-place finish. However, the eventual nominee was neither of those two candidates – it was John McCain, who pulled only 0.7% at the event.
It is held in the Hilton Coliseum at Iowa State University.
Despite winning the 2007 poll, reports on the Romney campaign suggest that the candidate will focus on New Hampshire at the expense of mounting a major effort in Iowa.
RBR-TVBR observation: The Ames poll provides motivation for candidates to dip into their warchests early. We suspect that there will be a lull in the advertising after that, but until August, the air wars in Iowa only figure to intensify. While Romney may shrug off the state and the Ames poll, other candidates looking to break out of the pack may make a media investment prior to the second Saturday in August.