Ames, Iowa — The polls just closed and the results aren’t in yet, but no hedging is necessary: Michele Bachmann is going to win the Ames Straw Poll. The lines into her tent have been long all day, and they’ve had to buy more tickets to hand out at least twice.
As for the rest of the field: If I had to guess I’d say Ron Paul comes in second. From eyeballing the crowd it looks like there are as many Pawlenty supporters as Paul supporters — the former stand out because the Pawlenty campaign has been handing out green t-shirts — but the Paul supporters are so much more intense in their commitment to their man. Pawlenty’s support is soft enough that, given a random green-shirted man here, I wouldn’t bet my life on T-Paw getting his vote.
I’m guessing that Rick Santorum will edge out Herman Cain for fourth place. The crowd at their tents were comparable last time I looked, and the crowd in the stadium responded much more enthusiastically to Cain, but Santorum spoke first and Cain spoke last, to a smaller crowd, many of whom had probably already voted (there was only an hour left at that point); if it had been the other way around I’d bet on Cain doing better.
The other candidate who bought space at Ames, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, had almost no one at his tent all day, and very few people were interested in hearing him speak in the stadium. I’m not sure why he even bothered to show up here. He’ll most likely finish behind candidates who didn’t.
Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich are on the ballot but made no effort. There is a small but noticeable write-in effort here for Rick Perry, who just announced his candidacy in Charleston, SC; I would bet on Perry beating Romney.
More to come after the results are announced.