A political website, Unelected, yesterday alleged that Michelle Bachmann was able to beat out second runner up Ron Paul to win the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa by paying for her votes. The poll, first held in 1979, occurs in Ames, Iowa, often coinciding with a state fair there, and is used to poll state Republican residents during years when there is not an incumbent Republican as president.
The site points out that Bachmann spent up to $1 million by hiring Randy Travis to perform for 6,000 fans and bussing in 152 of Travis’ fans into an event. In exchange for $30 valued tickets, concert goers had to register at Bachmann’s table and vote in the straw polls.
Members of Bachmann’s campaign handed out flyers requiring people to vote for Bachmann in order to see the entertainment. Bachmann collected 4823 votes to win and narrowly beat out second-place finisher Congressman Ron Paul who got 4671 votes. Not all concert goers voted for Bachmann, but arguably, she most likely did secure a substantial number of votes from that marketing ploy to win enough votes.
Certainly, winning in the Iowa straw poll does not secure a win in the Republican primary or the general election as Bob Dole, Mitt Romney, Pat Robertson have all held that honor in the past and none has gone on to win the presidency. However, the Bachmann stunt may have contributed to at least one candidate dropping out of the race early.
Shortly after the straw poll, third place finisher Tim Pawlenty decided to drop out of the race. But for the Bachmann stunt, Pawlenty may have placed higher and may have opted against ending his campaign so early.