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Ames Straw Poll and Immigration
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August 05, 2007, 10:23 PM
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There are six GOP hopefuls that have better than a 1% chance of getting that party`s nomination according the betting market Intrade.

CandidatePercentage Odds
Rudy Giuliani 35.3%
Fred Thompson30.3%
Mitt Romney18.8%
John McCain 6.0%
Ron Paul3.1%
Newt Gingrich3.0%

Markets like Intrade have a much better record of predicting electoral outcomes than methods like polls, so these are probably fairly realistic odds.

Now on August 11, 2008, in Ames Iowa the state GOP will have their straw poll. One two of the six major candidates above are actively participating in that contest. Factors that are important there: Iowa is a conservative state. of the major candidates, only Paul and Romney are likely to pass the "family values" litmus test. The rest are plagued by nasty rumors, divorce, estranged children or a history of affairs. The Iowa caucuses and the straw poll are a test of activist support. Funding and media support are secondary factors in these contests.

Iowa is a major chance for minor candidates to build momentum before the closely grouped primaries after New Hampshire.

Many pundits will be looking at Tancredo`s performance as an indication of how well a campaign centered on immigration can do. I disagree with this claim. Tancredo has focused largely and control of the immigrants themselves-and regulating employers and investors that profit from immigration has been a secondary factor in his thinking. Furthermore,despite his early attention to H-1b expansion, Tancredo`s recent voting record on H-1b expansion has been fairly weak. Paul has placed less emphasis on immigration, but has a stronger recent record on H-1b expansion. I would suggest that in the GOP there are more activists that have either been impacted by H-1b expansion-or have a friend that has than there are folks impacted by immigration of less skilled worker. Thus, the relative performance of Paul and Tancredo may be an indication of how GOP voters prioritize addressing different types of immigration.

What may be more important measure of GOP attention to immigration is the total support of Paul, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo in these early contests. These are the three candidates with records on immigration that are clearly more restrictive than average. If any of these folks drop out early, the others will probably get their supporters.

Paul is especially interesting in Iowa, because he has held some very successful rallies in Iowa-and because of his history of libertarian activism, he has a large base of loyal activists. I suspect that both Tancredo and Paul will do better in the straw poll and caucuses than is expected-and that whichever one stays in will build substantial momentum as the race develops.