Politico's wish: "As 2012 nears, the political class is united with one holiday wish: Please don’t make us spend New Year’s Eve in Iowa like we did in 2008."
But you will be spending August 13 here and the scientific community is united in that fact. Mark the date for the Republican straw poll, this time paired with a debate cosponsored with Fox News (the official network of the GOP).
If the nomination contest is an NCAA bracket, the straw poll is that #65 play-in game: the center of the universe for one day, it eliminates the very weakest contender (East Jesus State or Tommy Thompson). The big deal in 2007 was Mike Huckabee coming in ahead of Sam Brownback, thus consolidating the fundamentalist vote (with an assist from Fair Tax) and paving the path to the caucus win.
The question in the air is: will you have to do the straw poll to debate? There were some prominent no-shows in 2007; I'm convinced Fred Thompson deliberately stalled his formal announcement to skip the event. And it didn;t help our state that the eventual nominee came in fourth in the caucuses after running with a Screw Iowa strategy. (Of course, McCain wasn't nominated so much as everyone else was eliminated.)