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Mike Huckabee Wins, Ron Paul Loses

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Well, Mitt actually placed first, and that was to be expected.

But what wasn’t expected is that Ron Paul would lose to Huckabee, Brownback and Tom “Bomb Mecca” Trancedo.

From the Des Moines Register…

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had said his campaign’s future depended on a strong showing in Ames. He finished in second place, with 2,587 votes or 18.1 percent. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas placed third with 2,192 votes, 15.3 percent after campaigning aggressively to be the choice of the Iowa GOP’s influential social conservatives.

“Obviously this was an incredible day and victory for us,” Huckabee said. “What happened for us today was stunning.”

Huckabee said he and his campaign staff had been saying they had momentum and it proved true.

“We overperformed,” he said. “The bigger story is we did it with not a dime of paid advertising.”

Kudos to Huckabee and his team. He could be the dark horse in this campaign, as he’s been getting high marks from voters for his earnestness and likability. Seems like a guy they think they can trust.

Getting back to Ron Paul, I really do think this is a big blow for his campaign. A strong showing here would have rocketed him into the mediasphere, but losing to Tancredo? It means he remains an internet oddity, somebody that the media and the other candidates can dismiss as just a guy who figured out how to create some buzz on the internet.

UPDATE (8/12):
TNR notes why Huckabee’s win was important…

The CW about Ames, as noted yesterday, is that it overwhelmingly favors candidates with strong organizations. Huckabee more or less eviscerated that CW today. Both the man directly ahead of him in the final standings (Romney, with 31.5 percent of the vote ) and the man directly behind him (Sam Brownback, with 15 percent of the vote) spent enormous resources busing in supporters*. Huckabee spent exactly zero resources busing in supporters and still managed 18 percent of the vote. The other two campaigns bought hundreds, if not thousands, more straw-poll tickets than the number of votes they received. (Straw poll attendees must obtain a $35-ticket in order to vote. Campaigns typically buy them up and distribute them to supporters.) Huckabee bought around 1800 tickets and received almost 2600 votes. Clearly, Romney and Brownback dropped a lot of cash on people who ended up voting for someone else, and that someone else was probably Huckabee.

And do note…since Huckabee seems to be the candidate of choice for the religious right, he’d capture Brownback’s supporters as well…

Whatever the case, it’s hard to overstate the significance of Huckabee’s performance here. Combined, Huckabee and Brownback–the field’s two leading social conservatives–outpolled Mitt Romney today 33 to 31.5. If, as the results suggest, Huckabee emerges as the lone standard bearer for this group, he’ll probably end up with a block of support to rival Romney’s. (Most “Brownbackers” I spoke to would feel extremely comfortable throwing their support behind the Arkansan.) But, of course, just combining Brownback’s and Huckabee’s numbers actually way understates Huckabee’s potential ceiling. For one thing, he’s come this far running on fumes. It will be interesting to see what he can do with the fundraising boost he’ll enjoy after today.

The question is…how much will Huckabee raise and will it be that much of a boost?