Governor Would End Closely Watched Iowa Tradition

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has said it many times recently. But each time he says it, he likely makes it more apparent the Republican Party of Iowa has held its final Straw Poll.

“We’ve had discussions,” Branstad said Monday morning of his talks with top party leaders about what could replace the straw poll in 2015.

Branstad several times said it will be up to his party’s state central committee to make the final decision on whether to end the straw poll, a much-watched event his party has held since 1979.

The party holds the straw poll in August in the year preceding the presidential caucuses. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann won 2011’s event, which may have actually helped to kill future events.

Bachmann became the first woman to win the event in Iowa, a historical moment of fame for the Iowa-born candidate. But she fizzled fast after the event and became little more than a footnote with her eventual sixth-place finish on caucus night.

Bigger names like Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich skipped the event, which can cost candidates hundreds of thousands of dollars for the food, entertainment and transportation.

Critics question the value of the straw poll if top candidates don’t take part, especially since the event has no binding standing on the caucuses. It merely shows a strength of money and organization at that time.

The governor has pushed for a series of regional events to replace the straw poll, but so far, neither he nor the party has provided specifics.


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