Why the Iowa Straw Poll is no more

State Republican officials decided to end the quadrennial Iowa Straw Poll after almost 40 years.

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    A voter holds his Iowa straw poll admission ticket in Ames, Iowa on August 13, 2011.
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The Iowa Straw Poll, a high-profile Republican Party tradition for nearly four decades, is now dead.

The Iowa Republican Party on Friday voted unanimously to kill the state’s presidential straw poll in an early morning conference call.

Previously, several prominent Republicans – including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio – have said they are not going to participate in this year’s event, which was planned for August 8.

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"I've said since December that we would only hold a straw poll if the candidates wanted one, and this year that is just not the case," Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement after the vote.

Des Moines Register's chief politics reporter Jennifer Jacobs tweeted minutes before the announcement:

Since 1979, the carnival-like summer event had been held prior to the contested Iowa Republican caucuses, and was meant to raise money for the state party.

The event faced a lot of criticism over the past years over its high costs for candidates and not reflecting the broader preferences of Iowa Republicans.

2007 straw poll winner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could not win the Iowa nominating caucuses the next year.

But Michele Bachmann’s selection in 2011 was the major blow. After her surprise win in the poll, then-Minnesota congresswoman finished at the back of the pack in the 2012 Iowa caucuses, and dropped out of the presidential race

Last January, Republican National Committee legal counsel John Ryder described the event in a memo as “simply a fundraising mechanism at an entertainment event” with no connection “to any primary, caucuses, or state convention.”

"It is recommended that you continue to make clear to candidates, activists, and the public that the straw poll is unofficial and unscientific,” the memo said.

Out of a total of six Iowa straw polls, three winners – George H.W. Bush in 1979, Bob Dole in 1995, and George W. Bush in 1999 – went on to capture the Iowa GOP caucus the following year.

George W. Bush was the only straw poll winner to go all the way to win the Republican nomination and the presidential election in 2000.

The straw poll had traditionally been held on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, but this year the state party decided to move the site to nearby Boone.

On Friday, Kaufman expressed his regret over the cancellation of the event.

“This step, while extremely distasteful for those of us who love the Straw Poll, [it] is necessary to strengthen our First in the Nation status and ensure our future nominee has the best chance possible to take back the White House in 2016.”

However, as politics reporter for politico Kyle Cheney tweeted, the poll might come back again one day:

 
 
 

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