Rick Perry may have cast a big shadow over the Republican field today, but Michele Bachmann had a pretty good day, too: She won the Ames straw poll, with 4,823 votes of the nearly 17,000 cast, reports Politico. Ron Paul finished a close second (4,671), followed by Tim Pawlenty (2,293) in a distant third that doesn't bode well for his campaign. Rick Santorum (1,657) and Herman Cain (1,456) rounded out the top five. Perry got 718 write-in votes just hours after announcing his candidacy in another state and despite not being on the ballot. That's ahead of Mitt Romney (567), Newt Gingrich (385), and Jon Huntsman (69), all of whom were on the ballot but didn't contest. Bringing up the rear: Thaddeus McCotter with 35 votes.
Don't be quick to dismiss the results because Ames has a decent track record of predicting success in the Iowa caucuses, Nate Silver at the New York Times wrote beforehand. "This does not mean that Ames is 'important' per se: that a candidate will do well in the caucuses because he did well in the straw poll," he wrote. "But Ames does seem to pick up on a variety of 'intangible' factors that don’t show up well in other variables, and therefore serves a useful role as a leading indicator." Click to read his full number-crunching.