The Iowa Republican straw poll, once a staple campaign event for GOP presidential candidates, is vanishing because of waning interest from 2016 hopefuls. The governing board for the Republican Party of Iowa voted unanimously during a private conference call Friday to drop the event, said state GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann. It was scheduled to be held in the central Iowa city of Boone on Aug. 8. Republican officials wanted to make sure negativity surrounding the straw poll didn’t hurt Iowa’s traditional place in holding the first votes of the presidential nomination contest, with its leadoff caucuses.
Kaufmann said he was particularly concerned that GOP candidates were feeling unnecessary pressure to participate in the event. ‘You spend more time gaming your own candidates rather than worrying about Hillary Clinton,’ he said, referring to the Democratic Party’s front-runner for the presidential nomination.
‘That’s not how a first-in-the-nation state acts. A first-in-the-nation state has to roll out the welcome mat.’
Since 1979, the straw poll has been held every summer before a contested presidential caucus and grew from a county fundraiser to a splashy event where candidates spent lavishly to bus in and entertain supporters.