Corn Count: It's become our own little tradition at the Iowa State Fair. And if you think the kernels count, Iowa Governor Chet Culver is in a world of hurt come November. Although, of course, our Cast Your Kernel booth is completely unscientific. I don't know that a contest where you drop a corn kernel into a jar would make the most respected pollsters nod in approval, but could the results at least show how Iowans are feeling now?
In our contest, Culver lost to his republican challenger, former 4-term Governor Terry Branstad, by 40 points, 70 to 30%. In the five years of our polls, we have never seen a result so lopsided. The margin of victory for Branstad is more than twice as much as I've seen recently in any "more traditional" poll. Here were the totals:
Total kernels cast: 37,573
I did hear from a few people who alleged the whole thing was rigged. Are you serious? I just had a newborn. Do I really have the energy to dream up some kind of fixed system? I may be from Illinois, but I'm not from Chicago (Just kidding, Rahm and Mr. President!)
I did go back through the blog from previous year's contests. Here's what I found:
2006 (this is from my blog):
Hillary Clinton 33% (Love her or hate her, Iowans know who she is)
John Edwards 33% (Still popular. And how many ladies told me he's hot?)
Tom Vilsack 13% (At least he did better than the Des Moines Register's Poll)
John Kerry 9% (2004 is a long time ago)
Evan Bayh 3% (One guy called him Birch)
Russ Feingold 2% (Who is he, many asked us)
Joe Biden 2% (1988 is really a long time ago)
Tom Daschle 2% (Will he really run?)
Wesley Clark 1% (The General could be in for a quite a battle)
Mark Warner 1% (The new democrat is a new name to many Iowans)
John McCain 24% (Met many friends at the fair)
Rudy Giuliani 22% (9/11 made him strong among "r's")
Condoleeza Rice 22% (Never been a politician. Many here say she should)
Newt Gingrich 10% (Contract with America still pretty strong)
Mitt Romney 9% ("R" in a "D" state at home; middle of the pack here)
Bill Frist 6% (The doc may need some more patients)
Mike Huckabee 2% (Lost a ton, hasn't found a ton of support)
George Pataki 2% (Stands tall among peers, falls short in poll)
George Allen 1% (Is the Hall of Fame coach more known here?)
Sam Brownback 1% (So much for sharing the midwestern love)
2007 (from my blog post)
35,448. That is a lot of corn kernels. That's how many kernels you dropped in Mason jars at the WHO-TV "Cast Your Kernel" Booth at the Iowa State Fair (click here for full results). Pretty simple idea (unless you liked it, and then I'll tell you I spent endless hours planning this complicated plan). All you had to do was drop a kernel into the jar of the person you thought should be the next Prez. 11 republicans, which became 10 after Tommy Thompson went back to the land of cheese and beer, and 8 democrats.
I wish I knew the demographic breakdown of fairgoers. But democrats clearly had their ears. 21,438 people voted for the dems. 14,010 went for the repubs.
Hillary Clinton took the top kernel honor. Her jars held nearly a third of the democratic vote. It was interesting to listen to people talk about her. You seem to love her or you hate (Hate is such a strong word. Let's say strongly dislike) her. Couples clashed. Friends fought. Strangers sparred.
John Edwards surged a bit, it seemed, after he and his wife visited the Fair. But he couldn't catch Clinton. Barack Obama urged the crowd to help him out when he stopped by our booth. He still lost to Clinton by more than 2,200 kernels. Bill Richardson finished a solid fourth (he seemed pleased when he stopped by to check out his totals). Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, your jars still have an awful lot of room in them. Detassling on a 105 degree late July day may feel a lot easier than the field you'll have to plow through to win the Caucuses.
On the republican side, Mitt Romney hardly broke a sweat despite the sweltering weather. He took more than 36% of the vote. Mike Huckabee bounced a bunch after the Straw Poll. He went from fourth to second. Rudy Giuliani slid from second to third. Fred Thompson finished fourth. Tom Tancredo took fifth. The Ron Paul Revolution put him sixth. Sam Brownback stood seventh. John McCain, Duncan Hunter and John Cox could have easily shared a jar. A few months ago, who would have thought McCain could only top two near-complete unknowns?
Total kernels cast 48,865
(Note: In 2009, the station did a contest involving Iowa sports teams.)
Edible Egg: Or in our case, the probably-shouldn't-eat-them eggs. I was a bit surprised to find we had the recalled eggs in our fridge at home. (Thanks, honey:) Maybe I should have paid more attention to the stories we aired!
Comeback Cardinals: My St. Louis Cardinals seem to have found some offense, along with three straight wins. I still don't think their offense is good enough. Here's a crazy idea: trade for the Cubs' 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez. He has a player option for next year (at nearly $15 million). He could decline it and choose free agency. But even if he would take the money, the Cards will likely save $8-9 million for next year since they traded Ryan Luckwick (he would have likely been awarded that salary after arbitration this season). And they won't have pitcher Brad Penny's nearly $9 million contract. In other words, the Cards can afford it. And they need the offense. I don't know whether the Cubs would even trade him, especially to a division rival, or what they would want in return. But, hey, I don't care about that. It's not my money. And it's not my farm system. Just give me some offense!