After much controversy and debate, the Republican Party of Iowa has been given permission by the Republican National Committee to once again conduct the Ames Straw Poll in August of 2015. The poll has been terribly inaccurate with regard to gauging the preferences of Iowa caucus voters so there had been much discussion of scrapping the quadrennial event. This poll is uniquely a Republican poll since the Democratic Party of Iowa does not sponsor or sanction a similar event.
Report from Politico:
State party officials had said they may discontinue the straw poll if it compromises the cherished status of the state caucuses, which kick off the presidential nominating process. But RNC general counsel John Ryder concluded that, if promoted properly, the straw poll is kosher.
The Iowa GOP’s central committee is meeting in Des Moines on Saturday to vote on whether to go ahead with the straw poll, which is usually held in Ames, Iowa. Ryder’s decision virtually guarantees there will be enough votes on the committee to keep the event, three central committee members told POLITICO.
The straw poll has often been criticized as too beneficial to the most conservative candidates. But Ryder concluded that the straw poll is primarily a fundraiser for the state party and mainly about entertainment. Campaigns bus in supporters and buy “tickets” so they can vote in the poll. To coax them, they put on concerts and give out free food.
Mitt Romney won the poll in 2007 and Michele Bachmann won in 2011, neither candidate went on to win the Iowa caucuses let alone the Republican nomination. Perhaps if it can be tweaked, it can bear some reasonable results. Otherwise it will remain a political sideshow into which a few candidates pour lots of money and bus-loads of people to secure a meaningless victory for two days of press attention.