Well, Rudy Giuliani will not be at Ames. Neither will Fred Thompson. One has to wonder whether other campaigns will reconsider their commitments. Let’s look at what this all might mean. Here are some possibilities.
Ames will select the most important 2nd tier candidate
It is clear that the straw poll will not mean much at the top level. But it will still have a culling and separating effect. The 2nd tier candidate(s) that perform well will get a kick up into the top tier for purposes of Iowa. Hopefully those who do not succeed will drop out. This will still frame the field. Again, Ames would bump the most important 2nd tier candidate into a 1st-tier like position.
Easier for Gingrich?
Could this make it easier for Gingrich? This lowers the bar for some sort of success for him. Now, this cuts both ways. If less of an organization is necessary to succeed at Ames, then a success could be meaningless for him too. While this could make it easier for Newt to jump in, it could make it harder for him to interpret his chances from Ames.
In the end, I think that Ames will matter. It will establish 2nd tier bragging rights rather than top tier. But the quickly draining meaning of the top tier must really make the IRP angry.