Jim noted this morning that the Pawlenty team is spinning their candidate’s poor showing in the latest Des Moines Register poll with comparisions to Mike Huckabee, who was also far behind at this point in the race. Huckabee caught on after a surprise second-place showing in the Ames Straw Poll, an early test of organizational strength that helped propel him toward his eventual victory in Iowa.
Veteran GOP strategist Mike Murphy, declaring that Pawlenty needs to to “at least triple that TV buy,” opined on Twitter over the weekend that Pawlenty’s campaign could face a death spiral if he doesn’t make a strong showing at Ames on August 13: “No Ames bump = no more incoming $ = no fall campaign = no votes. Over, unfairly, before it starts.”
I think this analysis is right. Ames is Pawlenty’s only chance; if he doesn’t make a strong showing, his candidacy is most likely doomed. One thing he has going for him is that Romney is skipping the Ames Straw Poll altogether; some have taken this as an indication that Ames doesn’t matter much, but for Pawlenty, at least, I don’t think’s the case.