Would Eliminating the Iowa Straw Poll Hurt Candidates like Ron Paul?Submitted by cobaltz on Fri, 11/23/2012 - 01:34
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National Monitor, Staff | November 22, 2012
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad wants to eliminate the Iowa straw poll. If you were a supporter of former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, this news should concern you. Mr. Paul and other non-mainstream candidates relied heavily on events like the Iowa straw poll to generate voter enthusiasm in a race that was dominated by super PACs and candidates with seemingly unlimited resources.
“I think the straw poll has outlived its usefulness,” Mr. Branstad recently told The Wall Street Journal. “It has been a great fundraiser for the party, but I think its days are over.”
For candidates like Congressman Paul, the Iowa straw poll may never outlive its usefulness. Although Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann defeated the Texas Republican with 4,823 votes, Mr. Paul finished in a close second with 4,671 votes. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty took third with 2,293 votes.
While the former Air Force surgeon was bested by Congresswoman Bachmann, his second place finish rallied his grassroots supporters, funneled donations into his campaign and made him a viable candidate on the national stage. The same thing could be said about Ms. Bachmann. Although she exited the race shortly after finishing sixth in the Iowa caucuses in January, the Minnesota Republican made a name for herself by effectively eliminating Mr. Pawlenty from the GOP primary race.
“The straw poll is a disservice to Iowa Republicans in that it discourages top-tier candidates from attending, and therein threatens their participation in the caucuses, a la John McCain and Rudy Giuliani,” Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht told the Des Moines Register. “Or, a candidate still finds success in the caucus despite not participating or finishes sixth in the caucuses despite winning the straw poll.”
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