On Saturday the 18th of August, I attended the Strafford County (New Hampshire) Republican Party picnic and and straw poll. Several candidates and other bigwigs spoke, including representatives for those candidates who couldn’t be there. By the end of the day, I was calling it the Ron Paul Show, with a bunch of forgettable side shows.
Overwhelmingly, T-shirts, buttons, hats and signs bore Ron Paul’s name and messages more than any other candidate. One couldn’t help but feel sorry for any speaker that day who wasn’t the Good Doctor himself. Each speaker received perfunctory, polite applause, and there were always private conversations humming in the background, as the candidates and other speakers did their best not to look distressed at their lack of attention.
The organisers did the particularly cruel deed of scheduling Dr. Paul in the middle. When he was announced as the next speaker everyone was under the tent on their feet for a rousing standing ovation, which ended only at the insistence of the M.C., and which resumed with equal enthusiasm once Dr. Paul took the stage.
His speech was interrupted every few sentences with the roar of clapping and cheering. Then, when he was all done and stepped away from the tent nearly everyone went with him, swarming him for photo shoots, handshakes and interviews.
The few of us who stayed under the tent, even if for only a few minutes, either really did support the other candidates, or just wanted to be polite for the unfortunate speakers who had the ungodly task of following Ron Paul's act.
Later, the last speech mercifully finished, the ballot counting finished, the results of the straw poll were announced. For the results, I’ll turn the reader over to the following three items:
1) A report on recent straw polls across the nation
2) An example of typical media reporting of the campaign in New Hampshire
3) A video link where you see the straw poll results announced
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Ron Paul Wins NC, AL, NH Straw Polls, 3rd in IL
Ron Paul continued his strong performance in votes requiring active participation and informed voters, racking up wins this week in straw polls in New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Alabama, and placing third in Illinois.
Today's Alabama straw poll win was the most impressive, an incredible 81% showing in a poll of 266 Republicans who paid $35 each to participate, and was billed as Alabama's only Republican straw poll. Dr. Paul followed that up with a 73% showing in the Strafford County Republican Party straw poll in New Hampshire, after putting in a personal appearance this afternoon. (Huckabee and Tancredo also attended.) He placed third in the largest of the four straw polls, earning 19% of 922 votes cast at the Illinois State Fair.
West Alabama Republican Assembly, August 18th (266 voters)
81% -- Ron Paul
5% -- Mitt Romney
4% -- Duncan Hunter
3% -- Fred Thompson
3% -- Rudy Giuliani
2% -- Mike Huckabee
1% -- John McCain
1% -- Sam Brownback
0% -- Tom Tancredo
Strafford County (NH) Republican Party, August 18th (288 voters)
73% -- Ron Paul
9% -- Mitt Romney
7% -- Mike Huckabee
3% -- Tom Tancredo
2% -- John McCain
2% -- John Cox
2% -- Duncan Hunter
2% -- Fred Thompson
1% -- Rudy Giuliani
0% -- Sam Brownback
Illinois Republican Party, August 16th (922 voters)
40% -- Mitt Romney
20% -- Fred Thompson
19% -- Ron Paul
12% -- Rudy Giuliani
4% -- John McCain
3% -- Mike Huckabee
1% -- Sam Brownback
1% -- Duncan Hunter
0% -- Tom Tancredo
Gaston County (NC) Republican Party, August 14th (41 voters)
37% -- Ron Paul
32% -- Fred Thompson
10% -- Mike Huckabee
7% -- Newt Gingrich
7% -- Mitt Romney
5% -- Rudy Giuliani
2% -- John McCain
The next big test is the Texas Straw Poll on September 1st. In an apparent move to prevent Ron Paul's enthusiastic supporters from dominating the results, the Republican Party of Texas has limited participation to delegates to past state or national conventions. Ron Paul has not been deterred by the tactics, and will be treating the delegates to a pre-vote Texas Pride party at the Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth the night before, featuring Texas blues legend Jimmie Vaughan.
[Rich’s interjection]: How the media reported in New Hampshire:
Huckabee upbeat in Manchester visit
By DAN TUOHY
New Hampshire Union Leader
Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007
MANCHESTER – Another Arkansas governor is hustling to be a Comeback Kid in New Hampshire.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, fresh from a surprising second-place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll last week, arrived in the lead-off primary state yesterday seeking to build on the momentum.
His flair for the expectations game has some likely Republican voters giving him another look.
"To have that exposure is important to me," said Jim Untiet, an undecided voter from Goffstown. "I'm interested in his views."
Larry Gagne, a semi-retiree from Manchester, said he would vote for the fiscal conservative who is the most pro-life and pro-gun candidate.
"This guy's at the top of my list," he said.
Huckabee acted like a man at a homecoming during his first campaign stop in Manchester, the first of three days in New Hampshire. He rifled through his priorities and cracked jokes, including poking fun at another former governor of Arkansas, Democrat Bill Clinton, who claimed the Comeback Kid mantle in 1992 after finishing second in the New Hampshire Primary.
As about 150 people ate the last of their pasta and meatballs, Huckabee called on them to join his "movement," what he is calling his campaign after the result in Iowa.
"It was simply euphoric for all of us," he said of the result compared with his campaign's low budget. "We didn't have gold roots, we had grass roots."
While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney scored a solid victory in the Iowa poll, Huckabee's performance may help him better compete for the conservative vote. He is already seeing a bounce from his relative success.
Huckabee said his campaign has added 100,000 new names to its e-mail list, landed 1,000 new contributors and scheduled fundraisers in 13 states.
"The whole dynamic has changed," he said.
Huckabee received his loudest cheers last night when he spoke of the importance of the Second Amendment. And in a knock on Romney, a new member of the National Rifle Association, he said the right to bear arms is more than about hunting. "It's about our freedom," he said.
During 30 minutes at the Brady-Sullivan building in Manchester, Huckabee also called for reforming the tax code, protecting U.S. borders and establishing a Veterans Bill of Rights that spells out promises to military personnel. But he kept returning to his surge in Iowa and what it may mean for New Hampshire.
His New Hampshire campaign is hoping for a sea change in political fortunes as August gives way to what will be hectic campaigning until the New Hampshire primary, possibly to be held in the first or second week of January.
David Wheeler, one Huckabee supporter in New Hampshire, said the campaign would have an easier time promoting its agenda as the candidate builds his name recognition.
Fred Bramante, another supporter, said Huckabee proved in Iowa that he can be a contender without the millions of dollars the other candidates are spending each fiscal quarter.
"We're not going to let money win in New Hampshire," Bramante said to Huckabee's audience. "Message has got to win in New Hampshire."
Huckabee has won praise for his performance in recent Republican debates, including the New Hampshire debate co-sponsored in June by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Poll results, however, indicate he has a long climb out of the cellar. A July poll of likely Republican voters by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center had Romney leading with 33 percent, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani with 18 percent, former Sen. Fred Thompson with 13 percent, Sen. John McCain with 12 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 3 percent, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul and Huckabee with 2 percent each.
But the public opinion polls mattered little for likely voters listening to Huckabee last night in Manchester.
Gagne, the Republican looking for a reliable conservative candidate, just shrugged and said, "He was second in Iowa, right?"
[Rich]: Now watch as the poll results are announced in Strafford. Note that the cheering is so loud one can’t hear what comes after “two hundred”.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5GBdObhq4c