It's like Christmas for political pundits nationwide who are trying to make hay out of the Iowa Straw Poll results. Political observers may be dissecting the results until the first Presidential primaries roll around in 2008. Having studied the results, I come to a single conclusion: conservatism remains in style.
It should hardly be surprising that Mitt Romney claimed the top prize; after all, he had spent millions trying to secure a first place finish. Interestingly enough, though, two conservatives—Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Kansas Senator Sam Brownback—placed 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
It was, quite clearly, a win for the conservative cause in general and the pro-life cause in particular. While one can certainly argue whether Romney's pro-life conversion is really heartfelt, there is no doubt he has put social issues front and center and has worked to court the conservative vote. Huckabee has gained fame for his pro-life convictions, and Brownback has consistently tried to portray himself as the most pro-life candidate of them all.
Meanwhile, the Rockefeller brand of liberal Republicanism suffered a stinging defeat. Supposed front-runners Rudy Giuliani and John McCain chose to skip the event, although their names remained on the ballot.
Giuliani—the man the media would like to crown as nominee today—received only 183 votes. McCain—a steadfast supporter of anti-life embryonic stem cell research—garnered only 101 votes.
I think that the Iowa Straw Poll also shows that the Republican race for President is wide-open. When the alleged frontrunners don't even show up for a race, you know that the nomination for President is still up for grabs.
Much political ground needs to be covered between now and the summer of 2008. A number of variables remain in play. In other words, the Republican race for President may be anyone's to win—and anyone's to lose as well.
It's still possible that a so-called second-tier candidate, such as committed conservative Duncan Hunter, will emerge from the field and overtake the frontrunners. After all, many a horserace is won by a filly who gains momentum in the final stretch.
I predict a few surprises are in store for Republicans this election season. But one thing is sure: a conservative will save the day. Otherwise, the party will implode, causing a defeat in November which could take decades to overcome.