The true value of Ames

The Iowa straw poll got upstaged by Rick Perry and dismissed by skeptics. But if you think it was just a glorified political sideshow, you're wrong

Edward Morrissey

I spent most of last week in Iowa, following the Republican presidential hopefuls through state fair appearances, a national debate, and a long day in Ames as straw poll voters rendered their judgment on the GOP candidates. Even before I arrived in Ames, however, plenty of skeptical voices asked whether the entire exercise was overblown and overhyped, nothing more than a meaningless Republican fundraiser dressed up as a critical campaign event. Rick Perry's decision to officially enter the race from South Carolina on the day of the straw poll made that question even more trenchant.

Did Republicans make too much of the Ames poll? If they did, they had plenty of company. National news organizations sent their political A-teams to Iowa. ABC and NBC had their White House correspondents on the ground in Ames for the three days of the debate and the straw poll, Jake Tapper and Chuck Todd respectively. Fox broadcast its nightly news from the stage built into the Hilton Coliseum's makeshift media room on the floor of the arena, and broadcast Thursday's debate live from the Stephens Auditorium next door. National-reach newspapers such as The Washington Post and USA Today had one or more of their political correspondents on hand for all of the events.

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Edward Morrissey

Edward Morrissey has been writing about politics since 2003 in his blog, Captain's Quarters, and now writes for His columns have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Post, The New York Sun, the Washington Times, and other newspapers. Morrissey has a daily Internet talk show on politics and culture at Hot Air. Since 2004, Morrissey has had a weekend talk radio show in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and often fills in as a guest on Salem Radio Network's nationally-syndicated shows. He lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, and his two granddaughters. Morrissey's new book, GOING RED, will be published by Crown Forum on April 5, 2016.