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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET


Steve Brown

Chicago, IL


Iowa 2012…and a Tea Party influence?

April 6, 2010 - 5:07 PM | by: Steve Brown

10,000 Iowans.

Just the thought of THAT bloc of folks in the state where the first presidential contest of 2012 is…is enough to make a White House wannabe drool.

10,000 Iowans!

And that’s the number Des Moines Tea Party founder Charlie Gruschow gives when asked what the movement’s strength is in the Hawkeye State. Gruschow notes not all 10,000 are dedicated members attending each event. But those folks have at least been to or inquired about a Tea Party event.

Still…it’s a number that gets attention. And that’s the idea. Because of the rapid development of the Tea Party movement in the last six months…Gruschow predicts, “We will have a dramatic effect on the caucuses as well as the general election.”

“The question,” says Drake University political science professor Arthur Sanders, “is how large an impact?”

First, a check of the numbers. A record 350,000 people participated in 2008 Iowa Caucuses. 230,000 attended a Democratic caucus. Republicans counted 120,000 at their caucuses.

Most observers and many G-O-P leaders believe most Tea Party folks lean Republican…because they generally follow mutual principals of smaller government and less government spending.

“We certainly hope to get most of the Tea Party activists’ votes in November and I’m confident we will,” says Matt Strawn, the chairman of the Iowa GOP.

If (and it’s a big if) Tea Party folks all voted Republican…10,000 would be one of every 12 Iowa GOP caucus-goers. It’s a substantial number…but alone would not cinch a victory.

The other catch is drawing in Tea Party folks. For tax and privacy purposes…many Tea Party groups are non-partisan. They may promote stances on issues but cannot (or will not) promote a candidate or party. So…each Tea Party activist will have to measure candidates based on individual priorities…and make an individual decision. For political hands in Iowa, it’s the usual business of the old-fashioned one-at-a-time method of collecting votes.

And then there’s the question of the nature of the Iowa Republican party. Two years ago, Mike Huckabee…a social conservative won the 2008 GOP caucuses. Tea Partiers are much more interested in fiscal conservative issues of taxes and spending.

Plus, given their tendency of being very independent…it may ultimately mean Iowa Tea Partiers votes will be among the hardest to collect…all 10,000 of them.

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