The Republican Party of Iowa has released the speaking schedule for Saturday's straw poll in Ames:
Noon- Program BeginsQuestion: Who does this help or hurt among the tiny handful of people who are going to invest an entire day without a rock solid commitment to a candidate?
12:15- Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn
12:20- Terry Branstad
12:30- The big picture of all candidates on stage
12:40- Rick Santorum
1:00- Kim Reynolds
1:15- Ron Paul
1:40- Steve King
1:50- Tim Pawlenty
2:10- Chuck Grassley
2:20- Michele Bachmann
2:40- Tom Latham
2:50- Thaddeus McCotter
3:15- Herman Cain
Answer 1: Hurts Herman Cain. The guy who's likely to give the best speech goes last, after a sizable number of folks have voted and after the deadly, hall clearing drone of Thaddeus McCotter. Plus, attendees have just a half hour to cast ballots after Cain's done.
Answer 2: It helps traffic. The candidate who is likely to have the most die-hard, my guy or nobody else, not even interested in hearing the others supporters is Ron Paul. And he's done speaking 2 1/2 hours before voting closes. Expect a sizable exodus from the hall right around 1:30. (No, I don't think Steve King can hold them.) It's a dynamic I saw at the 2007 Harkin Steak Fry, where a good-sized I'm Only Here For Hillary contingent walked out during poor Chris Dodd's speech.
(Speaking of the Steak Fry, Team Tom announced this AM that the speaker at the September 18 event is political strategist Paul Begala.)
The other speakers who seem to have organizational structure and significant endorsements - Santorum, TPaw and Bachmann - are also front-loaded, so a fair share of the crowd may be headed home before the results are announced.
And I can't say this enough - be prepared for delays in that announcement, especially with the Colbert Super-PAC pushing for a "Rick Parry" write-in. (You seriously think some candidate on the bubble won't challenge that and demand it's not added to the Texan's totals?)