RIP Iowa Straw Poll: Republicans Kill Presidential Campaign Tradition For 2015

It's official, the Iowa Straw Poll is dead for 2015.

ByJosh Haskell
June 12, 2015, 11:25 AM

— -- It's official: Tthe Iowa Straw Poll is dead for 2015.

The Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee voted this morning to cancel the 2015 straw poll, which had been scheduled to take place on August 8.

"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," Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement. "For that reason I called a special meeting to update the State Central Committee, which then voted unanimously this morning to cancel the event. 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."

Since 1979, the Iowa Straw Poll has been a late summer tradition where Republican presidential candidates address a crowd of Iowa voters culminating in a vote, or "straw poll." It also doubles as a major fundraiser for the state party.

But, this year a number of candidates, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Mike Huckabee, announced ahead of time that they would not participate.

The straw poll has been criticized over the years for its ineffectiveness in predicting the winner of the Iowa Caucuses. Michele Bachmann, the former Minnesota congresswoman, who placed first in the straw poll in 2011 placed sixth in the Iowa Caucuses and dropped out of the residential race the next day.

"Michele Bachmann's straw poll glow didn't even last 24 hours in 2011," long-time Iowa GOP operative Tim Albrecht told ABC News. "There's a case to be made that ultimately the work you do piling away to the caucuses is what really matters. A lot of people point to her."

In 2012, Iowa's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad cast doubt on the event's fate, saying: "I think the straw poll has outlived its usefulness."

But even as recently as last month, Kaufmann, the party chair, was taking steps to save it. He wrote a letter that appeared in Politico outlining changes to ensure the poll is affordable to all candidates:

"Here in Iowa, so long as a Republican candidate can afford the plane ticket to Iowa, they are welcome in Boone on August 8," wrote Kaufmann. The Iowa Republican Party announced that they would no longer allow campaigns to pay for real estate or provide food for attendees.

As Albrecht noted: “The straw poll’s future was always going to be determined by the candidates and their level of participation.”

In the end, the proposed reforms, were not enough to keep the straw poll alive.

"Many candidates are still concerned about participating in an event that carries significant media-driven expectations well ahead of our First in the Nation Caucuses," Kaufmann said in a statement on Friday. "While we still deeply believe that the Straw Poll offers a fantastic opportunity for candidates, we need to focus on strengthening our First in the Nation status and putting a Republican back in the White House. Canceling the event is not a decision anyone on the State Central Committee took lightly."

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