Following Mitt Romney's decisive victory and Mike Huckabee's surprise second place finish at the Iowa Straw Poll, the campaigns must quickly turn their attention to the next pre-primary season challenge - the Townhall.com Texas Republican Straw Poll.
On a hot Iowa Saturday, thousands of Mitt Romney supporters delivered 31% of the Iowa Straw Poll votes and a clear victory. It was a test of his campaign's ability to organize in the first in the nation caucus state and he passed with flying colors.
Gov. Mike Huckabee wowed the audience and came in a surprising second place with 18% of the votes, beating Senator Brownback who heavily outspent him in his get out the vote efforts.
Full Iowa Results:
Mitt Romney (31.0%)
Mike Huckabee (18.1%)
Sam Brownback (15.3%)
Tom Tancredo (13.7%)
Ron Paul with (9.1%)
Tommy Thompson (7.3%)
Fred Thompson (1.6%)
Rudy Giuliani (1.3%)
Duncan Hunter (1.2%)
John McCain (0.7%)
John Cox (0.3%)
Romney's victory is certainly a victory and a testament to his campaign's organization and demonstrated the value of what campaign cash and repeated visits to the state can accomplish.
Now the campaigns move to their next battle - Texas.
Presidential politics promises to heat up in the Lone Star state over Labor Day as the Republican Party of Texas hosts the first ever "Townhall.com Presidential Straw Poll" in conjunction with exclusive media partner Salem Communications.
Second only to California, Texas holds thirty-four sought after electoral votes and no Republican candidate for president can win without the Lone Star state on his side of the ledger.
Thousands of Texas GOPers will convene on the 31st to give a signal of where their support will go come time for the Texas state primary in 2008.
As the only other state straw poll planned for the presidential race - the Townhall.com Presidential Straw Poll is a significant grassroots proving ground for presidential hopefuls in one of the most hotly contested campaigns in recent history.
And Townhall.com will be there.
As exclusive media partner for the event, Salem Communications will provide a local and national platform for the presidential straw poll through Dallas/Ft. Worth's News Talk 660AM K-SKY, Salem Radio Network, and the largest online community for conservative opinion and analysis, Townhall.com, which reaches over 2 million conservatives.
We'll have webcasts of candidate speeches, live blogging, straw poll dispatches and other event highlights. In addition, Hugh Hewitt will host Salem Radio Network's nationally syndicated Hugh Hewitt Show on Friday at the Convention Center.
With states playing leap frog on the primary calendar, it's looking like the first official votes for the Republican nomination will comes as early as the first week of January - some even speculating that we could see a mid-December Iowa caucus if reasonable heads don't prevail.
That leaves barely four months before Republican must make up their minds are start casting real votes. With several debates under their belts and with eight candidates still claiming to be credible, it's time for the field to get serious.
And that begins in Texas.
The Townhall.com-Texas Republican Straw Poll is the last chance for second and third tier candidates to make the case that Republicans should still be giving them a look and it's time for top candidates to prove they deserve the attention.
Can Romney ride the wave of his Iowa Straw Poll success to victory in Texas?
Can Huckabee improve on his Iowa surprise in Texas - A state much closer to home?
What about Giuliani? Can he win a vote in an electoral vote rich state?
And what about the candidate who isn't a candidate yet - Fred Thompson? Will he get in the game before the clock runs out?
We'll find out in two weeks.
See you in Texas.