An annual tradition dating back nearly four decades died Friday after the Iowa GOP State Central Committee unanimously voted to cancel the 2015 Straw Poll, a Republican fundraising event aimed at gauging the party’s potential leader in presidential races. The cancellation reflected the event's waning importance and high costs, which have come increasingly under fire, and the fact that several Republican candidates, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee, opted not to participate in the poll, according to Politico.
“I’ve said since December that we would only hold a straw poll if the candidates wanted one, and this year that is just not the case,” state GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement. “For that reason I called a special meeting to update the State Central Committee, which then voted unanimously this morning to cancel the event. This step, while extremely distasteful for those of us who love the Straw Poll, is necessary to strengthen our First in the Nation status and ensure our future nominee has the best chance possible to take back the White House in 2016.”
Many have wondered whether the popular straw poll vote, which began in 1979, even matters for presidential candidates anymore. The poll has become increasingly obsolete in recent years as a metric for measuring the success or failure of particular candidates, in part because it has only accurately predicted a candidate’s win in the state's caucuses three times in its 36-year history. Candidates have shown less interest in participating. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was the party’s frontrunner in 2007, skipped the event entirely that year.
In 2011, the vote put then-presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, a former house representative and tea party favorite from Minnesota, ahead of the pack. However, six months later, her standing fell dramatically in the Iowa caucuses and she ultimately dropped out of the presidential race.