Discussing The Future of the Iowa Straw Poll

My friend Jamie Johnson was subbing on Simon Conway’s show on WHO Radio 1040 AM in Des Moines, IA.  He had me on this afternoon to discuss the Iowa Straw Poll which came under fire after Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said we should do away with it.  Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker disagreed.  I support keeping the Straw Poll which the Republican Party of Iowa has held before every contested Caucus since 1979 in Ames, IA.  I wrote about that here.  Jamie wrote a guest post on the Straw Poll here.  It was a fun experience which came with an unexpected learning opportunity.

Some say we’re taking two bites at the apple in Iowa which seems ridiculous considering other states, including New Hampshire, have straw polls as well.  Ours is just better organized, bigger, and only Iowans participate as we require an Iowa ID.

Some people think it’s too early.  Some don’t like the fact it is Ames.  Jamie and I discussed the merits of having a similar event in other parts of the states.  Also why is it that the moderate wing of the party seems to be the ones advocating getting rid of it?

You can listen to the interview below.

Regarding Governor Branstad’s criticism I’d just like to point out he was quick to defend it in 2011.

On CNN on July 15, 2011:

Branstad, who was in Utah for the National Governors Association annual meeting, told CNN that Perry’s fact-finding calls into Iowa have left him with the impression that a presidential bid is likely.

He predicted that Perry will jump in “sometime after” the Ames Straw Poll on August 13.

Branstad also said Perry can “absolutely” afford to skip the straw poll, traditionally a test of each campaign’s organizational strength in the leadoff caucus state.

One candidate who cannot afford to skip the straw poll is former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has been campaigning in Iowa for more than a year and must beat expectations in the state if he hopes to continue his campaign beyond the early nominating states.

Pawlenty “needs to do well” in the straw poll, Branstad said, but said a poor showing would not derail his campaign. He said Pawlenty has an experienced team of Iowa advisers that will keep him competitive beyond Ames.

The Iowa Independent on 8/8/11:

Gov. Terry Branstad Monday defended the Ames Straw Poll against outside criticism over its credibility and significance on the political scene, calling it “fair, [and] objective.”

“I’ve seen over the years the changes that have been made,” he said of the straw poll since its 1979 inception. “You have to have be an Iowan and you have to show an Iowa ID in order to vote in the Straw Poll. It’s even more strict than voting in Iowa (in a general election).  I think it’s certainly designed to be [a] fair, objective deal.”

The straw poll, one of the Republican Party of Iowa’s most prominent fundraisers held during presidential election cycles, is Saturday in Ames. Though well understood by participants as a non-binding contest, the straw poll can influence a candidate’s campaign to go further or sputter out.

“It isn’t just who wins, it’s who beats expectations,” Branstad said. “It’s an expectation game. It’s an important first test. I think it’s a mistake not to participate.”

I would be a mistake not to participate… my how he’s changing his tune.

Again on CNN on 8/14/11:

The results of the Iowa straw poll will be carefully scrutinized by political analysts, helping propel some candidates in their fundraising and campaign efforts elsewhere even as it deflates others.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a veteran observer of Republican politics in the state, said it is critical that a candidate do well if they are to have any chance, down the line.

“If you’re not in the top three here, your chances of getting elected are not very good,” he said.

Somebody mentioned to me early they remembered Governor Branstad saying that the Iowa Straw Poll was good because it helped out the underdogs.  The key to doing well in the straw poll isn’t necessarily winning – ask Mitt Romney in 2007.  It is meeting or, better yet, exceeding expectations.  Anyway there is plenty of time to get this hashed out.  In the meantime what do you think?  Get rid of the Straw Poll?  Keep it the same, or keep it with tweaks, and what would those be?