Some time, some pushback, some reading, and some conversaton has filled out my thinking on Ames.

Mike Huckabee is clearly the story coming out of Ames for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is that he got a bump. A big one. He will be able to raise money off this, which has been his problem in both Q1 and Q2. He also got headlines. People will take a first or second look at him.

Second, the low turnout suggests that most votes were bought. Mitt Romney spent $2m. Sam Brownback $600k. Huckabee? Not so much. It seems, and no one has raised evidence otherwise, that the Huckabee operation was somewhat spontaneous. On the one hand, this is a tribute to his speaking ability and his message. On the other hand, there is still no evidence that he can organize his way out of a paper bag.

Third, as one reader, who is a friend and a VA operative, put it:

I think that would be a decent indicator of actual support if someone, say Huckebee spent less than Brownback and received more votes.  I would suspect the big winner in that chart [dollar per vote] would be Paul or Tancredo.

I don’t know how much the guys in 4th or 5th matter on this, since it puts them in 7th or 8th over all. But dollar-per-vote or dollar-per-earned-media, clearly Huckabee is far and above the winner. He just needs to figure out how to convert to an organization.

So the story continues to be Huckabee. Romney got what he needed, but I don’t think that he can be fully satisfied. And the shakedown in the conservative field will be interesting to watch. My question is going to be: who drops and and who gets whose staff?

UPDATE: USA Today did some analysis of the per-candidate spending, (H/T to Rich Galen):

Third-place finisher Sam Brownback says he spent about $325,000 to win his 2,192 votes. That’s $148.27 for each vote.
Second-place finisher Mike Huckabee spent about $150,000 and received 2,587 votes. That’s $57.98 per vote.
Winner Mitt Romney has not said how much he spent. The reporting in this Washington Post article suggests at least $2 million and possibly more than twice that much. Assuming $2 million for 4,516 votes, that’s $442.87 per vote. But it could top $1,000.


1 Comment

Ian · August 13, 2007 at 10:46 AM

Huckabee is a very adroit public speaker. He communcates his message in life-like, cogent terms, with compelling examples like the story he told (at the Ames Straw Poll) of what his then-11-yo daughter entered into the “Comments” section of a Visitors Book after visiting the Yad Vashem holocaust museum: “Couldn’t somebody do something?”


Huckabee puts listeners at ease, and reassures them through clear concepts and a natural, integrated manner of communication (no doubt something well-cultivated as a pastor). He’s not demanding, like a Ron Paul, nor is he as “well-scripted” as Romney, nor as mechanical-squinty like Brownback.

Most importantly, Huckabee convinces many that he is ONE with the FairTax grassroots movement (5). While many – like Romney, and others, who are invested in the current income tax system – seek to demagog (1) the well-researched FairTax plan, its acceptance in the professional / academic community (2) continues to grow. Failure to enact the FairTax – choosing instead to try to “flatten” a NON-FLATTENABLE income tax system – will result in an irrevocable economic meltdown (3)!

Just take a look at the WEAK response Romney followed Huckabee with on last weekend’s “This Week with Geo. Stephanopoulos (4)”

Here is why the FairTax MUST replace the income tax. It’s:

• SIMPLE, easy to understand
• EFFICIENT, inexpensive to comply with and doesn’t cause less-than-optimal business decisions for tax minimization purposes
• FAIR, loophole free and everyone pays their share
• LOW TAX RATE, achieved by broad base with no exclusions
• PREDICTABLE, doesn’t change, so financial planning is possible
• UNINTRUSIVE, doesn’t intrude into our personal affairs or limit our liberty
• VISIBLE, not hidden from the public in tax-inflated prices or otherwise
• PRODUCTIVE, rewards, rather than penalizes, work and productivity

Its benefits are as follows:

• No more tax on income – make as much as you wish
• You receive your full paycheck – no more deductions
• You pay the tax when you buy “at retail” – not “used”
• No more double taxation (e.g. like on current Capital Gains)
• Reduction of “pre-FairTaxed” retail prices by 20%-30%
• Adding back 29.9% FairTax maintains current price levels
• FairTax would constitute 23% portion of new prices
• Every household receives a monthly check, or “pre-bate”
• “Prebate” is “advance payback” for monthly consumption to poverty level
• FairTax’s “prebate” ensures progressivity, poverty protection
• Finally, citizens are knowledgeable of what their tax IS
• Elimination of “parasitic” Income Tax industry
• Those possessing illicit forms of income will ALSO pay the FairTax
• Households have more disposable income to purchase goods
• Savings is bolstered with reduction of interest rates

• Corporate income and payroll taxes revoked under FairTax
• Business compensated for collecting tax at “cash register”
• No more tax-related lawyers, lobbyists on company payrolls
• No more embedded (hidden) income/payroll taxes in prices
• Reduced costs. Competition – not tax policy – drives prices
• Off-shore “tax haven” headquarters can now return to U.S
• No more “favors” from politicians at expense of taxpayers
• Resources go to R&D and study of competition – not taxes
• Marketplace distortions eliminated for fair competition
• US exports increase their share of foreign markets

• 7% – 13% economic growth projected in the first year of the FairTax
• Jobs return to the U.S.
• Foreign corporations “set up shop” in the U.S.
• Tax system trends are corrected to “enlarge the pie”
• Larger economic “pie,” means thinner tax rate “slices”
• Initial 23% portion of price is pressured downward as “pie”
• No more “closed door” tax deals by politicians and business
• FairTax sets new global standard. Other countries will follow


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