WASHINGTON – For a brief moment last summer after she won the Iowa Republican Party’s Ames Straw Poll, Michele Bachmann’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination seemed to have caught fire. Now, citing her post-straw poll flameout, Iowa’s governor Terry Branstad says it’s time for the political pageant to end.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Branstad said. “I think the straw poll has outlived its usefulness.” He continued, “It has been a great fundraiser for the party, but I think its days are over.”
Bachmann, who represents Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, won that poll by spending heavily to bus in supporters and arrange live entertainment. But her campaign fizzled not long after the win with a series of weak debate performances. She withdrew from the Republican presidential nomination race in January after coming in sixth in the Iowa caucus with just 5 percent support.
“You saw what happened the last time,” Branstad told the Journal. “I don’t think candidates will spend the time or money to participate in a straw poll if they don’t see any real benefit coming out of it.”
The straw poll has rarely predicted the ultimate winner of the Republican caucus in Iowa, but it has been a lucrative fundraiser for the state’s GOP. Candidates pay steep entry fees for their supporters to take part in the straw poll.
Last year’s Iowa straw poll also ended the candidacy of Minnesota’s other candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. His poor showing in the poll led to the end of his campaign. Pawlenty now runs one of the top trade associations for the banking industry in Washington, DC.
The chairman of the state party, A.J. Spiker, told the Journal that Branstad was “wrong” and that, “this is not a decision he will make anyway.”