The Ames Straw Poll, a nonbinding “election” held by the Republican Party about one year prior to the main event, is often seen as the official kickoff to election season, when the various Republican candidates get their first chance to test their organizational strength and public support. The entire affair receives extensive media coverage and is intently dissected by teams of political analysts.
Sometimes we would wonder why they bother. Of six recent winners, only two have gone on to win the Republican nomination, and only half of all winners have managed to win the state’s primaries. Traditions like these die hard, even when they’re transparently pointless. But Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, at least, sees the writing on the wall. The Washington Post:
After 33 years, the Ames Straw Poll should be scrapped, says the state’s Republican governor.
“I think the straw poll has outlived its usefulness,” Gov. Terry Branstad told the Wall Street Journal of the Iowa Republican tradition. “It has been a great fundraiser for the party but I think its days are over.”
Please, please kill the Ames straw poll, and don’t stop there: Push the early caucuses and primaries back. No votes in January 2016. Election season is a dreadfully long slog as it is, and the less time, money and media attention wasted the better.