Iowa GOP should worry about February, not August

Friday, June 5, 2015

State and county Republican leaders are warning GOP presidential hopefuls that skipping the straw poll in Boone on Aug. 8 could be harmful to their campaigns.

According to the New York Times, "County Republican leaders representing over 90 of Iowa's 99 counties have signed a letter pleading with the presidential prospects to compete in the straw poll, The Iowa straw poll is a tradition worth supporting and one grass-roots activists will fight to preserve," states the letter, which is being circulated by Republican leaders from the state's two largest counties, Polk and Linn.

The straw poll, previously always held in Ames, dates back to 1979, and has been a fund raising event for the Iowa Republican Party.

Even before some of the major GOP candidates announced their intentions not to participate this year, the media have been considering the idea that the event's significance has been overrated. The straw polling is not an accurate predictor of candidate performance in the national competition for the nominatio, nor even a predictor of the eventual Iowa delegate count.

The relevance of the even more hyped GOP Iowa caucus site polling, tentatively scheduled for Feb. 2, 2016, could be questioned for the same reason. The ego-boosting media attention to the Iowa caucus could fade if media feel they are subject to the same embarrassing situation that resulted from Iowa GOP mishandling of the caucus site polling in 2012.