Perry, Bachmann, Romney Separate Themselves From 2012 GOP Pack

Five things the weekend revealed about the Republican candidates' race toward 2012.

By + More

5. The Ames Straw Poll isn't that big of a deal. As U.S. News reported last week, the poll has limited predictive value: Only two of the five Ames Straw Poll winners have won the GOP nomination, and only one made it all the way to the White House, President George W. Bush.

Sabato calls the poll a "phony real event" since it isn't a real election but gets covered and talked about like one. He says the poll's main value was in clarifying things a little bit, but primarily because of the heightened media attention on all the candidates. "It's the most important phony real event so far," he says. "Don't worry, there'll be plenty of others."

  • See a slide show of the 2012 GOP candidates: Who is in and who is out.
  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the GOP primary.
  • See a photo gallery of Michele Bachmann on the campaign trail.