In Q1, the refrain from the 2nd tier was that the only fundraising number that really matters is Q2 Cash on Hand. The reasoning for that was Ames. The amount of money that a campaign has right now limits the amount of money it can spend at Ames, and there’s a linear relationship between the amount of money that you invest in Ames and your vote. And 2nd tier campaigns are looking for a boost from Ames. So let’s try to reason around what is going on with the CoH numbers, taken from WaPo.
The first conclusions are about the people who are not contesting Ames. Clearly Rudy Giuliani could contest Ames and expect to do well, if he had identified the voters. The fact that he is not contesting, with the polls and CoH, suggests either that he has not developed the ground game necessary, or they don’t think that winning would be that helpful. Or that a loss hurts quite a lot.
In contrast, John McCain clearly could not afford to contest Ames with the amount of cash he has. Lucky break from Rudy.
Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee have very similar CoH numbers, despite Brownback’s much superior fundraising. This suggests that their relative results are probably going to be a measure of who has better organization and popularity in the state.
The real question, as Patrick Ruffini has pointed out, is what will happen if Ron Paul comes in second? He clearly has the money to perform well. He appears to have a reasonable in-state organization and almost all of the energy in the race. It seems that most people are assuming that only the top two or three, of those contesting Ames, will will advance after Ames. What if Ron Paul is one of those guys? What impact does that have on the race?
And what about those 527s that Fred Thompson and Newt Gingrich have? Are they going to be cranking out straw poll votes? We might not know until mid-January when those disclosures become public.