Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Chris Cillizza reports that Michele Bachmann won the Ames straw poll:
Bachmann took 4,823 votes, narrowly escaping a major upset at the hands of Texas Rep. Ron Paul who won 4,671 votes. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty placed third with 2,293, a showing that is likely to raise questions about his ability to continue in the contest.
Wait a second. Everyone expected Bachmann to win, and likewise, everyone knows that Ron Paul has a demonstrated (and meaningless) ability to round up his tiny band of fanatical troops for events like this. So third place isn't too bad for Pawlenty, is it? Or was the "Pawlenty in trouble" media narrative already so set in stone that it didn't matter how well he did?
(For the record, I think Pawlenty is toast. Still, his showing in Ames wasn't too bad.)
UPDATE: My Twitter feed is full of people who think Pawlenty's showing puts him right on the edge of viability. I don't quite get this, but maybe it makes sense given how much time he put into Iowa. Still, I can't help but think that it's basically a reaction to everything else about the Pawlenty campaign, not to the straw poll itself.
UPDATE 2: Well, I guess everyone else was right. Pawlenty is out.