Latest on the Ames Straw Poll

Political junkies are all atwitter over the symbolic Iowa straw poll of Republican presidential candidates in Ames today.

On Thursday, a University of Iowa poll reported “Don’t Know” leading the pack with 35 percent. Democratic candidate Illinois Sen. Barack Obama garnered third place with 6 percent among Republicans, trailing only Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (35 percent) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (10 percent).

Iowa Independent will have live coverage throughout the day.

Meanwhile, Iowa Indy’s Lynda Waddington has the scoop on the real meaning of the straw poll — sparkly thongs, robocalls, and all.

Politically motivated folks throughout the nation will be keeping their eyes at the ready this weekend, waiting for that proverbial finger to be moistened and lifted skyward. Still, it remains to be seen how much information about Iowa’s social conservatives can be mined from a reduced field of cupie doll candidates.

First, in honor of that special Republican who might be leaving us come Sunday, let’s have a little straight talk. The Ames Straw Poll is the sparkly thong across the Iowa GOP’s gyrating buttocks. Above all else, the straw poll — much like politics today — is all about the money.

Most Iowans who travel to Ames this weekend will do so on a candidate’s dime. The participating Republican candidates rent the buses, buy the ballots, pay between $10,000 and $25,000 for tent space, arrange entertainment, provide food, shell out chum and, basically, do everything short of marking ballots for their supporters.