2012 Tuesday: The Ames Straw Poll and Michele Bachmann’s executive non-experience

We’ve had a couple of debates, but the 2012 campaign will be truly under way next month when the Iowa Republican Party holds its famed Ames Straw Poll. Like the Iowa caucuses themselves, the straw poll has only limited predictive value when it comes to the GOP nomination: George H.W. Bush won the inaugural straw poll before the 1980 election, when he didn’t wind up with the nomination, and finished just third before the 1988 contest, when he did. Bob Dole tied for first when he ran and won the nomination in 1996, but John McCain captured the 2008 nomination despite finishing a miserable tenth in the straw poll. The only person to win the straw poll and the presidency was George W. Bush in 2000.

So why does the straw poll (which takes place 15 months before a presidential election in which there’s no incumbent Republican president) get so much attention? For the same reason the Iowa caucuses do: It provides a focus for the campaign in its early stages, and it can give a candidate momentum — which can then be seized or frittered away.

And going into next month’s contest, Michele Bachmann holds both the campaign’s focus and its momentum.

The Iowa native, who represents Minnesota in Congress, has surpassed Mitt Romney among likely caucus-goers in a poll conducted for the Iowa Republican. At 25 percent to 21 percent, her lead is just within the poll’s margin of error. But among the “most attentive voters,” she has a commanding 14-point lead over Romney (who, among those voters, also has Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty nipping more closely at his heels). She also has, by far, the largest spread between her favorable and unfavorable ratings at a whopping 65 percentage points.

All of which means she’ll probably be taking more shots from her opponents over the next 31 days.

Pawlenty began — with a noticeably less strident criticism than the “Obamneycare” line he famously uttered and then retreated from a day later — by noting that Bachmann hasn’t been very successful in Congress at getting legislation passed and doesn’t have executive experience.

The first criticism is a little unfair. Until this January, Bachmann had only served in the minority party while Nancy Pelosi and Co. ruled the House of Representatives. Had Bachmann championed the kind of legislation that might have gotten through the Pelosi House, she probably wouldn’t have the kind of tea-party support that has made her a legitimate contender.

The executive experience criticism is much more on point. The Republicans rightly pilloried Barack Obama as a candidate for his lack of executive experience, and now he will be running as an incumbent at the end of his first term.

In fact, I don’t see how the GOP can hope to win if it doesn’t nominate someone without extensive executive experience, most likely as a governor. I think that’s a large part of why (former Massachusetts Gov.) Romney is leading most other polls, why (former Minnesota Gov.) Pawlenty still has a chance, why many Republicans wanted Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to run and why many Republicans now want Texas Gov. Rick Perry to enter the race. Cain has executive experience of a different kind, in corporate America and at the Kansas City Federal Reserve, and it remains to be seen if voters will consider his resume on a par with those of past state governors.

Bachmann’s response to Pawlenty’s executive criticism — that executive experience is no help if the candidate produced “more of the same big government as usual” — might help her get by from now until the straw poll. But ultimately, I don’t think it is winning defense.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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105 comments Add your comment

Jefferson

July 12th, 2011
11:43 am

What matters is do any of them care about America, or they care about being elected ?

GTT

July 12th, 2011
11:45 am

GTT

July 12th, 2011
11:45 am

Bart Abel

July 12th, 2011
11:48 am

Michelle Bachmann recently announced that she will definitely vote against raising the debt ceiling.

In other words, Michelle Bachmann will definitely vote for the U.S. to default on its debts. Bachmann will definitely vote to throw us, and the world, into another recession and perhaps a depression. Bachmann will definitely vote to throw millions out of work. Bachmann will definitely vote to throw millions out of their homes. Bachmann will definitely vote for higher interest rates on consumers and businesses. Bachmann will definitely vote for a scenario in which social security payments could immediately get cut, health care for veterans and seniors will be compromised, and our entire economic infrastructure put at risk.

We’re about three weeks away from a 100 percent man-made, easily preventable, economic catastrophe. All Congress has to do is what Democratic and Republican Congresses have done dozens of times before without fanfare…raise the debt ceiling to prevent default. It’s a minor housekeeping item that could be done by the end of today if they wanted. But Bachmann, among many others in her party, doesn’t want to raise the debt ceiling. Period.

This is the person who has momentum in the Republican presidential primaries? We’re in big trouble.

Jimmy62

July 12th, 2011
11:50 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Bachmann actually run a company that had a payroll to meet? That’s all the executive experience I’m worried about. Obama never had that, and I think it shows in his lack of understanding of small business owners and people who aren’t desperately poor, but still depend on their regular paychecks to get by.

td

July 12th, 2011
12:36 pm

Bart Abel

July 12th, 2011
11:48 am

My children are already going to have to pay off the debt created by this selfish generation and now you are asking for my unborn grandchildren to pay as well? Great attitude. As long as I get mine.

Bart Abel

July 12th, 2011
12:51 pm

td,

You write about your children having to “pay off the debt”. What Republicans are threatening is not to pay off debt, but to DEFAULT on our debt. Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and now Italy are doing everything possible to avoid going into default. In contrast, Republicans are threatening to cause the U.S. to default on its debt…on purpose.

Chris Matthews

July 12th, 2011
12:52 pm

Maybe we can find another community organizer again! Obama never passed a bill, paid a payroll or ever hung out with normal Americans! All his friends were radicals! He was raised by Marists and grewup as a Muslim and used cocaine! Far cry from Washington and Lincoln!! How can anyone judge the current crop of wanta-bees!

Jim Crowe

July 12th, 2011
12:53 pm

Is Bachmann the one that thought she was a witch or was that another one?

Linda

July 12th, 2011
12:53 pm

Democrats posting here yesterday & today don’t understand the problem facing America today.

Standard & Poor came out 4/11 & gave the US a 2-year deadline to enact “meaningful change.” The US, compared to the other 18 countries with a AAA credit rating, has “…very large budget deficits & rising government indebtedness..Debt ceiling was not mentioned in Standard & Poor (press) release or on a conference call with their analysts.”

In June, Moody’s issued a warning that the US “govt.’s Triple A rating could be cut if ’substantial’ deficit reduction hasn’t occurred…The debt limit negotiations represent a real near-term opportunity for agreement on a plan for fiscal consolidation.”

The problem is with the debt & adding over $1.5 T to it every year & borrowing 40 cents of every dollar the fed. govt. is spending. What this means, simplified, is that 40% of the fed. govt. must be cut, just to break even. An additional 10% must be eliminated to begin paying down the debt. Raising taxes will not solve the problem. We need more people employed, paying taxes, but the economy is not likely to recover & unemployment will likely remain high until the debt problem is resolved.

The debt ceiling will need to be raised, but only temporarily & only one more time, as an emergency, but under no circumstances should it be raised until a concrete plan is in place to address the real problem. Reductions in spending must begin with cuts from FY11.

Jim Crowe

July 12th, 2011
12:54 pm

He was raised by Marists and grewup as a Muslim and used cocaine

You forgot to mention he is black. And that’s really the problem now isn’t it.

hatorade drinkers

July 12th, 2011
12:54 pm

do you really think bachmann understands the implications of a default? of the many times the debt ceiling increase has been approved over the last 10 years, how did she vote? what is different now? and would we be having this discussion if the current president was from her own party?

jconservative

July 12th, 2011
12:55 pm

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Bachmann actually run a company that had a payroll to meet?”

Yes.

“Bachmann and her husband own a Christian counseling practice named Bachmann & Associates. Their clinic, run by her husband, who has a PhD in clinical psychology from Union Graduate School,…” From Wikipedia

ByteMe

July 12th, 2011
1:00 pm

Bachmann’s response to Pawlenty’s executive criticism — that executive experience is no help if the candidate produced “more of the same big government as usual” — might help her get by from now until the straw poll. But ultimately, I don’t think it is winning defense.

Just wait ’til independents find out that Mr. Bachmann runs a counseling firm that uses scripture to try to “cure” gays. Think that won’t show up on the comedy shows?

ByteMe

July 12th, 2011
1:00 pm

jconservative, thanks for the awesome lead-in.

I'm the Prez

July 12th, 2011
1:01 pm

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET THIS WOMAN WIN THE NOMINATION.

DID I SAY PLEASE.

PUH-UH-UH-LEEZ!!!!!!!

Filter

July 12th, 2011
1:04 pm

Thanks Linda. It’s so reassuring to k now that we stupid people have all you republicans to educate the rest of us since we can’t possibly have a different view of things without you guys ’splaining to us how ignorant we really are.

Thanks so very much.

DC Dawg

July 12th, 2011
1:07 pm

Speaking of Ms. Bachmann … According to a new study by Jim Kouri, vice president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, politicians have the same personality traits as psychopathic serial killers. These traits include superficial charm, an exaggerated sense of self-worth, glibness, lying, lack of remorse, and manipulation of others. In reaching his conclusion, Kouri utilized data drawn from the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit and his law enforcement experience.

DC Dawg

July 12th, 2011
1:12 pm

CJ

July 12th, 2011
1:12 pm

Linda: “…under no circumstances should [the debt ceiling] be raised until…”

In other words, Linda advocates that at some point the U.S. should refuse to pay its debts and deliberately create a global economic catastrophe if certain Republican demands aren’t met (thereby causing S&P and Moody’s to immediately lower the U.S. debt rating to junk).

Pay the ransom or the hostage gets it. Got it.

arnold

July 12th, 2011
1:14 pm

I’m just waiting for Glen Beck and Nancy Grace to produce an offspring together that will grow up and run for President. Now that will be fun to watch. I should live so long.

Linda

July 12th, 2011
1:14 pm

Filter@1:01, You’re so very welcome.

DawgDad

July 12th, 2011
1:14 pm

“In fact, I don’t see how the GOP can hope to win if it doesn’t nominate someone without extensive executive experience, most likely as a governor.”

First, I think you mean “with”. Second, didn’t you learn ANYTHING in the 2008 election?

If the GOP wants to win back the White House they need (1) a candidate who will energize the base, especially the Tea Party types, (2) a candidate who can hold fort with the GOP establishment, and (3) a candidate who can appeal to just enough independent voters, many of whom voted irrationally on emotion in the last election.

Barack Obama won largely because he convinced many people to vote FOR him and his “vision”, regardless of who or what he really was. The GOP needs to redevelop what they ultimately threw away under Bush, the vision AND reality of a party serving the interests of the American people by promoting and maintaining America as a land of opportunity and freedom under Constitutional Law and limited government. Foreign or “too big to fail” banking/financial interests and corporate fascists/corporate welfare addicts don’t fit in that equation.

what??

July 12th, 2011
1:15 pm

Linda is right, running 1.5 trillion dollar deficits every year isn’t good. However the route to reduce it is where the argument lies. As much as you insistence that spending is a problem, if you look at the revenue brought in, you would see it’s at historic lows. As a business owner, I have yet to see how reducing government spending by 1 trillion dollars in a year affects my business. If anything, any employes that work for the government will be without a job, which actually hurts the economy.

Sanpete

July 12th, 2011
1:17 pm

Why hasn’t anybody attacked Bachman’s religion? It is just as crazy in not crazier than Mormonism. The Wisconsin Synod is nuts. They really believe the universe was created in six days!!! If you are going to attack Mormonism then you also need to attack other religions.

Sanpete

July 12th, 2011
1:19 pm

The Wisconsin Synod is also way more anti female than the Mormon religion. They are not suppose to lead in any way in the Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church. They are nuts.

arnold

July 12th, 2011
1:20 pm

“The Wisconsin Synod is nuts. They really believe the universe was created in six days!!!” It’s not just Wisconsin. We have that belief system right here in Georgia. Actually most anywhere in the rural south.

yuzeyurbrane

July 12th, 2011
1:22 pm

Excellent analysis of Republican politics. Only pt. not really touched upon is charisma. Whatever you think about her, she has more than all other announced candidates combined. But is it enough to win?

Check these stats

July 12th, 2011
1:23 pm

W ran a business and met a payroll too. The name of it was el Busto. You see how that and his presidency worked out.

A so-called fiscal conservative would rather default on the nation’s debt than end subsidies to the richest corporations in the world. Go figure.

pj

July 12th, 2011
1:26 pm

Help me understand this – Obama’s package is about 85% spending cuts and 15% revennue increases. And the revenue gains won’t take place until 2013. The R’s got cuts to SS and other entitlements, then they just voted to increase the defense budget. Now what is the problem? What are the R’s giving up?

Linda

July 12th, 2011
1:26 pm

CJ@1:12, I’m sorry you disagree or don’t understand the warnings from the 2 credit agencies. Their fear is NOT the govt.’s REFUSAL to pay its debts, but rather the govt.’s INABILITY to pay its debts. The US is insolvent today, that is, unless we begin selling buildings & land. We are broke & in debt up to the dome of the Lincoln Memorial. We’ve been warned, even by Obama’s own Debt Commission, that our debt is the greatest threat to our national security. Congress is addicted to spending & China is its supplier & laughing all the way to the bank.

DawgDad

July 12th, 2011
1:30 pm

Check: It’s not an “either-or” proposition. If you believe it is, then we are on a downward spiral economically that cannot be reversed. History tells me that is not the case.

CJ

July 12th, 2011
1:36 pm

Linda,

The U.S. is NOT insolvent today. If we were, our debt rating would already have been degraded and the interest rates on our treasury bonds would be at an all time high. In fact, they’re at or near an all time low.

Insolvency entails not being able to pay our debts. That’s very different from choosing not to pay our debts…out of spite. The two credit agencies have warned that if we CHOOSE not to pay our debts (i.e., refuse to raise the debt ceiling), then our debt rating will go down immediately, meaning interest rates will rise immediately.

You are advocating for deliberately causing the damage that you claim to want to avoid.

what??

July 12th, 2011
1:39 pm

Linda-

But isn’t a vote to not raise the debt ceiling effectively the inability to pay the US debt?

pj

July 12th, 2011
1:39 pm

Kyle – back to the main topic. What happens if Bachman wins Iowa, finishes 2nd in N.H, and then wins South Carolina. (not totally crazy scenarios.) Who does that knock out of the race?

Steve

July 12th, 2011
1:40 pm

She’s blatantly homophobic, her closeted gay effeminate husband runs a clinic to “cure” gays – this woman is a freaking trainwreck. She’ll appeal to the ignorant, racist blue-collar crowd, but luckily that crowd is not the majority.

Check these stats

July 12th, 2011
1:41 pm

DawgDad- The debt ceiling was raised 7 times with no strings attached by hear same republicans. They included all of these stipulations for spending cuts. They’re getting 83-85%,spending cuts for only 17% tax increases, of which the majority are ending tax subsidies. Compromise isn’t saying no unless you get 100% of what you want. Even though republicans in the past have raised the debt ceiling in the past as stand alone legislation.

Pongo

July 12th, 2011
1:45 pm

Trying to get today’s Republican to compromise and agree to anything for the good of the nation is like trying to get the Taliban to recognize that girls and women are equal. Just like the Taliban they would rather destroy their country than reach any sort of compromise,so that they can get or maintain their grip on power. I hope they go down in flames in 2012.

Bart Abel

July 12th, 2011
1:45 pm

what?? at 1:39:

Linda doesn’t know the answer to your question. If she did, she’d be calling her Congressman and Senators right now demanding that they raise the debt ceiling immediately, with no strings attached, as Republican and Democratic Congress have done for decades under Republican and Democratic presidents.

Linda

July 12th, 2011
1:46 pm

CJ@1:36, If the US is not insolvent, then why do we owe $14.5 T & why don’t we just pay it off? Why do we also owe another $114.6 T in unfunded liabilities to social security, drugs & Medicare?

You are wrong about the 2 credit agencies. Neither one mentioned the debt ceiling. Both addressed the REAL problem: the DEBT.

The Democrats need to take the advice of Clint Eastwood, “A good man always knows his limitations.” The US has surpassed ours.

Linda

July 12th, 2011
1:50 pm

what@1:39, No. Geitner claims the fed. govt. will default on the debt 8/2 if the ceiling isn’t raised. If Obama really believed that, why is he holding out for increasing taxes on the billionaires making $200,000 in 2013?

Kyle Wingfield

July 12th, 2011
1:51 pm

CJ @ 1:36: Not raising the debt ceiling is not the same thing as choosing not to pay our debts. We bring in more revenue each year than the interest payments on our debt require (which is the real reason Linda is incorrect to declare the U.S. government insolvent). We do not bring in enough revenue to maintain current spending levels *and* make our debt payments (actually, I could have ended that sentence after “levels”). Now, arguably there would be a price, perhaps too large a price, to pay for going that route; that’s a related but different debate. It is inaccurate, however, to say that we necessarily won’t pay our debts if we don’t raise the debt ceiling.

pj @ 1:39: Depends on who finishes where in those states. But it’s most likely that Pawlenty and Cain would be finished in your scenario. Huntsman, too, unless N.H. voters somehow put him and Bachmann above Romney (extremely unlikely imo).

Romney will have the money to keep going, especially if he wins N.H. Perry, if he runs, would also probably still be viable, especially if he were a strong second in S.C.

what??

July 12th, 2011
1:52 pm

Linda-
By your own account whenever I have debt I’m insolvent. Well just about every homeowner in the US is insolvent.

And this concept of unfunded liabilities make me wonder if people understand what they are. It’s projecting current revenues on futere expense. Of course they would be unfunded. If you are project right now we have 1 million seniors and comparing that to the revenue we bring in now. In all honesty, as an accountant it violates the matching principle and is non GAAP.

JF McNamara

July 12th, 2011
1:56 pm

Linda,

I think you are the one who is confused.

1. Raising taxes will solve the problem. If you have more revenue, that means that you reduce the debt so long as you don’t add any additional spending. That’s basic math.

2. We have the highest possible credit rating. Even if our credit rating is downgraded, we are still one of the most investment worthy places in the world. Its not a Good/Bad switch. There are levels to the rating, and we are at (virtually) no risk of default. If we were, our debt rating would already be much lower. This article contains a chart with the current ratings of every country.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/apr/30/credit-ratings-country-fitch-moodys-standard

3. In a way, the debt rating doesn’t matter. What does matter is how much we can sell our debt for at the bond auctions. There is a huge appetite for American debt, because we are still the most stable and largest investment vehicle in the world. Look at the prices at the bond markets. They are low and stable.

4. Where people buy bonds also has a lot to do with the relative strength of economies. The U.S. is stronger than any other country in the world especially to China who is the primary borrower. They have nowhere else to invest.

This whole issue about the debt ceiling is completely dumb. Do we need to stop spending recklessly, absolutely. Do we need to not pay our bills to do so, No.

Its more panic politics, and you’re one of the people who fall into the trap continuously. Stop listening at the radio and TV so much. The real data is out there, and its saying that our debt right now is really much ado about nothing.

CJ

July 12th, 2011
2:06 pm

Kyle,

I stand corrected.

Not raising the debt ceiling is choice not pay social security checks, Medicare bills, our troops, air traffic controllers, homeland security personnel, federal judges and staff, CDC epidemiologists, SEC auditors, FDA scientists, and/or many others or default on our debt or a combination of these bad options. The result is the same: economic calamity.

We agree that there would be a price to pay.

pj

July 12th, 2011
2:07 pm

Kyle – didn’t one of your previous columns on deficit reduction support a similar 3:1 ratio between spending cuts and revenue increases?

Linda

July 12th, 2011
2:08 pm

what@1:51, I have a different definition of insolvency that most people. My parents never paid a dime of interest & believed interest was income rather than an expense. The only interest I have ever paid was on two houses.

Bart Abel

July 12th, 2011
2:15 pm

what?? at 1:52,

Great point! When adding my mortgage to my car loan, my personal debt is 155 percent of my annual income…relatively low compared to many others. Yet, somehow, I’m not insolvent. In fact, I’m doing pretty good.

When people say that we should run our government like we run our households and businesses, they should remember that households and businesses borrow money to invest in their futures.

The government has had far larger amounts of debt in the past, measured as a portion of the size of the economy, and we were able to reduce the deficits, in part, by helping to grow the private sector with the investments that it made.

The government isn’t insolvent. I to am concerned about the size of our current deficits. Very concerned. But cutting spending and raising taxes aren’t the only options. Government can invest in the economy in such a way that the economy grows faster than the debt…as it has in the past. It’s all relative.

Filter

July 12th, 2011
2:19 pm

ummmmmm….Linda….definitions are definitions. They are what they are and aren’t subject to the whims of the person using them.

Opinions, well now that’s another issue entirely. But then again I don’t agree with everything you say so what can I possibly know.

Jimmy62

July 12th, 2011
2:20 pm

Raising taxes will not solve the problem. Unless we raise taxes on poor people (the ones who often don’t actually pay income taxes). If we take every dollar from every rich person in the US, we will still be left with a huge debt.

Revenue is not the problem and never has been. Spending is. Spending growth (i.e. the growth of government, which also means more control over our lives and less freedom) has far outstripped population growth+inflation. Please explain how that’s a revenue problem? That’s like me having a $40k/year job and buying a $4 million mansion, and saying my problem isn’t that I spent too much, it’s that I don’t make enough money! It’s a great way to end up homeless as an individual, or broke as a country. You gotta sell that house and live within your means, because it’s unrealistic to think you can immediately raise your income enough to pay for that mansion.