The time has come to end the venerable Ames straw poll, Iowa’s Republican governor Terry Branstad has claimed.
The four-yearly event has “lost its usefulness,” Branstad said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal
. “It has been a great fundraiser for the party but I think its days are over.”
Only one winner — George W. Bush in 1999 — has gone on to take the presidency in six go-rounds. One other victor, Bob Dole, who tied with Phil Gramm four years earlier, won the GOP nomination but failed in his bid for the Oval Office.
Michele Bachmann won the poll in August 2011, giving her fledgling campaign bragging rights. But just five months later she could only muster 5 percent of the vote in the Iowa Republican caucuses, coming in sixth.
“You saw what happened the last time,” Branstad said. “I don’t think candidates will spend the time or money to participate in a straw poll if they don’t see any real benefit coming out of it.”
The governor was soon shot down by other Republicans in Iowa. “Gov. Branstad is wrong, and this is not a decision he will make anyway,” said A.J. Spiker, chairman of the state GOP. “It is a decision the party and the candidates will make.
“There is nothing like it in the country and I am surprised any Iowan would ever talk it down.”
Matt Strawn, who helped organize last year’s poll said he thought it should live on as a way of getting candidates before Iowa’s voters, but said he believed less emphasis should be placed on the poll itself.
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