Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad shied away Thursday from calling for an outright end to the Ames Straw Poll but floated the possibility of making changes to the decades-old GOP tradition.

“It’s going to depend on the candidates and who is willing to participate,” Branstad said on CNN, when asked whether the presidential poll will flame out before the 2016 race. “I think having a series of fundraisers regionally around the state would be a good alternative.”


Branstad has, in the past, called the poll an anachronism, telling The Wall Street Journal in 2012 that it “outlived its usefulness.”

Others have hit the poll for being too dependent on money. Candidates buy campaign spots around the event to help woo voters, and many will pay to bus Iowans in to vote.

A victory at the Ames Straw Poll can breathe fresh life into a campaign, but it’s had muddled results as a predictor for the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the winners, respectively, of the 2011 and 2007 straw polls, failed to win the Iowa causes months later.

But former President George W. Bush and former Sen. Bob Dole (Kan.) parlayed their 1999 and 1995 victories in the Ames Straw Poll into a victory at the polls at the Iowa caucuses. 

Branstad, 67, is a fixture of Iowa Republican politics, having served five nonconsecutive terms. A victory in November would make him the undisputed longest-serving governor in American history.