For reasons we never fully understood, Tim Pawlenty was seen by some people, at one time, as a front-runner for the GOP nomination. His stock has fallen precipitously since then, as polls have demonstrated only mild interest from voters and the emergence of other candidates like Michele Bachmann have lowered his chances of winning in Iowa's first-in-the-nation primary contest. Pawlenty has pinned his hopes on the August 13 Ames Straw Poll, which, if he wins, could revive the momentum he's lost. But today both the Times and Bloomberg speculate that Pawlenty could be the first candidate to drop out of the race if his showing in the straw poll fails to meet expectations.
Their gloomy outlook is completely warranted: In the most recent Iowa polling, Pawlenty attracted just 6 percent support, good for fifth place behind the likes of the moribund Newt Gingrich, who could go on another Mediterranean cruise right now and nobody would notice. Pawlenty, though, has an explanation for his disappointing showing in Iowa so far. As he told the Des Moines Register yesterday:
The reason he’s lagging in the polls, Pawlenty told editors and reporters in a wide-ranging discussion with The Des Moines Register’s editorial board today, is that “this week is the first time that I’ve campaigned in earnest in Iowa.”
That would be a good excuse if it were true, but ...
Pawlenty has made more campaign appearances here than any other candidate except former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
If Tim Pawlenty's campaign appearances don't leave an impression on Tim Pawlenty, what chance do the voters have?
Pawlenty says he just started earnest campaigning in Iowa this week [Iowa Caucuses/Des Moines Register]