Republicans kick off their nominating cycle with the Ames, Iowa, straw poll, but it may no longer be as significant as in the past, Politico reports. The poll has not proven much of a barometer of late for the GOP nationally.
The Republican Party of Iowa's state central committee agreed to stage the event this year, most likely on Aug. 8, though the committee still needs to reserve space on the campus of Iowa State University, Politico said.
Fox News has decided not to sponsor a candidate debate in Ames the evening before the straw poll takes place. The conservative news network did so four years ago, but won’t this year due to a reduction in the number of primary debates supported by the Republican National Committee.
There’s still no telling which Republican presidential candidates will decide to compete in the event. In 2011, former-Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann won, barely defeating then-Texas Rep. Ron Paul. However, Bachmann’s campaign benefited little from the straw poll, and she finished with just 5 percent of the total vote in the Iowa caucuses just a few months later.
“The fact that Bachmann won the thing and then immediately fell apart diminishes the influence of the straw poll,” Craig Robinson, the former state GOP political director who organized the 2007 event, told Politico Saturday.
The straw poll will continue to be held despite opposition from some, including Terry Branstad, the six-term Republican governor of Iowa, who said following the 2012 election, the straw poll wasn’t relevant anymore. He added the event may be scaring candidates away from the state altogether.
As a straw poll, the results of the poll have no actual effect on the presidential primaries and caucuses, but many see it as a test of organizational strength. The Ames Straw Poll has long been the most well-known of the numerous Iowa straw polls.