Iowa GOP kills straw poll
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The Iowa GOP is killing the Iowa Straw Poll, following weeks of speculation over the event's future and with many candidates saying they would not participate.

"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," state party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement.


"This step, while extremely distasteful for those of us who love the Straw Poll, 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," he added.

The poll was once a bellwether predictor of the nation's first presidential caucus with participation by GOP hopefuls a given. But this cycle, former Govs. Mike Huckabee (Ark.) and Jeb Bush (Fla.), as well as Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' Tim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter MORE (Fla.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Tim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter MORE (S.C.), decided they'd skip it.

Others didn't made firm commitments. Govs. Scott Walker (Wis.) and Bobby Jindal (La.), former Gov. Rick Perry (Texas), and Carly Fiorina, all committed to join Bush, Huckabee and Rubio the same weekend in Georgia at an event held by conservative commentator Erick Erickson of RedState. And none of them committed to traveling back to the Hawkeye State for the straw poll.

The event's only two commitments had been Dr. Ben Carson and Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE.

The move, voted on at a Friday meeting by the board of the Iowa GOP, spells the end of what was once considered a vital, yet fun and folksy way to connect with voters ahead of the first presidential caucus.  

Candidates would typically spend significant money at the straw poll, which resembled more of a state fair than a political contest. Presidential hopefuls would rent booths, dole out food and whip up the support of attendees who would then vote on a winner.

But while the poll was a boon for the state GOP, it could no longer withstand constant criticism that the event cost too much and that it rarely predicted the eventual nominee.

Then-Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannBoehner says he voted for Trump, didn't push back on election claims because he's retired Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers Boehner finally calls it as he sees it MORE (R-Minn.) won the straw poll in 2011 before stumbling to a sixth-place finish in the 2012 Iowa caucuses, prompting her to immediately drop out of the race.

And former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2007 straw poll victory didn’t help him win the following year’s caucus or the nomination.

But the straw poll did have previous successes—George W. Bush, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush all rode their straw poll wins to the top of the Iowa caucuses the following year.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) floated the possibly of nixing the contest fresh off the 2012 election, when he said it had “outlived its usefulness.”

The Iowa GOP had tried to plug the holes in the sinking ship by moving the event to a smaller location and cutting costs for candidates. But those changes couldn’t save the poll, which first began in 1979.  

This story was updated at 11:30 a.m.