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article imageIowa GOP Gov. Terry Branstad says Ames Straw Poll should end

By Andrew Moran     Nov 23, 2012 in Politics
Ames - On a Saturday in August during an election year, the Republican Party holds the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa to see what candidate Iowa GOP voters support. Governor Terry Branstad is now calling for an end to the prominent straw poll.
Last year, the Ames Straw Poll garnered a lot of controversy after the media listed the winner and losers of the straw poll, but omitted Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who was in second place and only lost to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who spent $2 million, by less than 200 votes.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal (via Yahoo! News), Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said the poll should come to an end, even though it’s a fantastic fundraiser for the Republican Party.
“I think the straw poll has outlived its usefulness,” said Gov. Branstad on Tuesday. “It has been a great fundraiser for the party, but I think its days are over. You saw what happened the last time. 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.”
However, the Journal reported in the same story that Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker, Dr. Paul’s Iowa co-chairman during the 2012 presidential campaign, opposed the governor’s assertions and said he can’t even make the final decision.
"I believe the Iowa Straw Poll is possibly the best way for a presidential campaign to organize (put in place county and precinct leaders & activate them) for Iowa’s First in the Nation Caucus," said Spiker in an interview with NBC News. "I think it is detrimental for any campaign to skip the opportunity presented in Ames and I disagree with Governor Branstad about ending our Iowa Straw Poll."
The very first Ames Straw Poll took place in Aug. 1979, which was won by former President George H.W. Bush. These political individuals would go on to win the straw poll: Pat Robertson (1987), Senators Bob Dole and Phil Gramm (tied in 1995), President George W. Bush (1999), former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (2007) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (2011).
In the 2011 straw poll, only 17,000 people came out to participate out of approximately 120,000 who actually voted.
Ed Rollins, who managed Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign when she won the poll, told the Associated Press that it’s not worth all of the effort that goes into trying to win the straw poll.
“It's a tedious effort. It costs a lot of money. It's totally irrelevant at the end of the day. It used to be a test of organization,” said Rollins. “Today it's a lot of effort and a lot of energy that really is not worth the effort.”
More about Terry Branstad, iowa governor, ames straw poll, Ron paul, Republican party
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