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 RubioPhase-four virus relief hits a wall On The Money: Senate aims to quickly approve more small-business aid | Dems seek conditions on new funds for small-business loans | Pelosi says next round of relief will top T The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Debruyne Says Global Response Platform Needed; Navarro Saw It Coming MORE (Fla.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill UN biodiversity chief calls for international ban of 'wet markets' Graham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets 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 John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill 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 BachmannEvangelicals shouldn't be defending Trump in tiff over editorial Mellman: The 'lane theory' is the wrong lane to be in White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations 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.