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Friday, January 09, 2015

The Ames Straw Poll

Since 1979 every summer before the Iowa caucuses the Republican Party of Iowa organized a Straw Poll - the Ames GOP Straw Poll- where presidential contenders could show their stuff, haul in "supporters" and try to get buzz by "winning" the straw poll.

The poll is not a great predictor of who will win the Iowa Caucuses nor who will win the GOP nomination NOR who will become President of the United States. Those are the criticisms of the Straw poll.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad wants the straw poll killed because it distracts from the caucuses. I'm not sure how since we have had the straw poll since 1979 and it did nothing to undermine or "weaken" the importance of the caucuses for OVER 30 YEARS!

I know that the governor was frightened by MN congresswoman Michelle Bachmann's victory in 2011. BUT her victory was short lived and she came in near last in the actual caucuses.

My argument is that the Ames Straw poll is NOT the Iowa caucuses and it has completely different purposes including:

  1. It is a great political festival during a slow news period. The media LOVE the poll.
  2. The straw poll also allows extreme candidates (Bachmann) to scare the bejeebees out of Republicans who then ramp up up port for more credible candidates such as Romney.
  3. The straw poll is economic development and creates hundreds of jobs in the transportation, printing, tech, and hospitality industries. It also stimulates the airlines, Des Moines airport, and charter bus companies.
I love the straw poll and have had a lot of fun watching the candidates try to outdo each other in organizing support, hiring musicians, serving fantastic barbeque, and otherwise creating a festive and fun political event. What's wrong with that?

I'm a big fan of the Straw Poll. I have even called publicly for the Democrats to also organize a straw poll and maybe call it the Thomas Jefferson - Andrew Jackson Democratic Party Politipalooza. *


* FYI - "Jefferson–Jackson Day is the most common name given to the annual fundraising celebration held by Democratic Party organizations in the United States."

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