INDIANAPOLIS – Congressman Messer failed to gain any momentum after drastically underperforming the expectations of Republican pundits at the GOP’s Congress of Counties straw poll.
Congressman Messer went into Saturday’s straw poll as a heavy favorite, with expectations high that he would run up the score or face disappointment. Former Congressman and GOP pundit Mark Souder predicted last week in Howey Politics that “If he scores 80% of the Republican vote, it will be impressive, but 70% would show power among the local political establishments.” Anything less, Souder continued, would suggest that Congressman Messer’s support among the establishment was divided.
Congressman Messer received only 45% of the vote, or fewer than 150 of the 326 voters.
With straw poll success based more on how a candidate does against expectations than whether he can grab the support of one-hundred-and-some-odd activists, Congressman Messer’s momentum may ultimately have taken a hit after his showing despite the win. That’s especially the case after reports broke last week in the Indy Star that Congressman Messer’s campaign had been paying college students to vote for him, leading some of his opponents to claim that the poll was “rigged.”
“Even though Congressman Messer may be the ‘winner’ in Saturday’s GOP Senate straw poll, his underwhelming performance and failure to come near his expectations only show that he’s left this weekend with less momentum than ever,” said Michael Feldman, spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party. “The daily infighting and mudslinging seems to have sunk all three leading candidates, so it’s no surprise that Congressman Messer failed to convince even a majority of the ‘establishment’ voters that he still deserves their support.”