Every time the Republicans lose the presidential election, the reformers in the party speak out about the need to modernize the GOP. Now that Mitt Romney is just a footnote in history, Iowa’s Republican Governor, Terry Branstad, has stepped up to the plate and made the much needed suggestion to eliminate the controversial Iowa Straw Poll.
The Iowa Straw Poll, first conducted in 1979, is held every four years, a year before the national election. Critics have complained the poll, which comes at the start of the drive for the Republican nomination, pushes candidates to adopt policies that may not represent the mainstream of the party.
Doug Gross, the Iowa Republican who chaired Mitt Romney’s 2008 Iowa Campaign for the nomination, felt the Iowa Straw Poll hurt Romney’s chances to win the election in 2012. The poll forced Romney to voice an ultra conservative philosophy that came back to haunt him in the general election.
“It diminished his nationwide candidacy. Romney took positions on immigration that were quite far to the right and if he hadn’t taken those positions, he would have a better chance of winning swing states like Nevada, Colorado, and Florida. The straw poll forces them to deal with extremists and you can’t help but have some of that rub off on you. That hurts our ability to nominate candidates who can win.”
Earlier this week, Governor Branstad told the Wall Street Journal the straw poll has “outlived its usefulness.” In reality, the poll has turned into a carnival, where celebrating, wining, dining and chauffeuring the chosen has become the rule. The various candidates compete to see how many tickets they can give to supporters to travel to the Iowa State University campus and raise a ruckus for their chosen pretender to the Republican throne.
Republican Party strategist Ed Rollins is no fan of the straw poll. However, Rollins admitted that his client, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, spent two million dollars in her effort to win the poll in the summer of 2011.
“It’s a tedious effort. It costs a lot of money. It’s totally irrelevant at the end of the day. It used to be a test of organization. Today it’s a lot of effort and a lot of energy that really is not worth the effort.”
Other Republican consultants lauded the efforts of the Iowa Governor to do away with the straw poll. Veteran GOP campaign adviser Charlie Black praised Governor Branstad for his candor.
“It’s just something that’s gotten totally out of control. It’s been bad for years, but no one has had the guts to say it until now.”
Iowa GOP strategist John Stineman uttered what many party leaders are hoping will be the final words about the once popular Iowa Straw Poll:
“The straw poll was great in its time. It’s time to move on.”
Perhaps not the final words. Republicans still can’t agree on anything and A.J. Spiker, chairman of the state GOP, had words of warning for his Governor.
“Gov. Branstad is wrong, and this is not a decision he will make, anyway. It is a decision the party and the candidates will make.”
Well, Mrs. Clinton, it looks like the GOP are as determined as ever to fight among themselves and hand you the Presidency in 2016. That is, if you decide to run. We don’t suppose you would care to give The Inquisitr a scoop on your plans for the future, would you, Madam Secretary?