Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) suggested on Monday that the state GOP should scrap its quadrennial presidential straw poll in favor of a broader system that would offer Republican candidates more opportunities for exposure.
“I think, looking to the future, we will be able to develop maybe a series of regional fundraisers and events that can help the party raise money as well as giving the candidates an opportunity for forums and visibility throughout the state,” Branstad said during his weekly press conference, according to the Des Moines Register.
Branstad offered more pointed criticism of the decades-old custom last week, telling the Wall Street Journal that it had "outlived its usefulness." The governor offered Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's 2011 victory at the Ames, Iowa event as evidence that it had a tendency to produce unviable candidates. Months after the summer straw poll, Bachmann limped to a fifth-place finish in the state's caucuses, eventually forcing her to end her campaign.
While the Iowa GOP aggressively pushed back against Branstad's claim that the straw poll's relevance was waning, national Republicans have supported the governor's contention, saying that the event serves primarily as a costly spectacle that actually discourages some of the party's potential contenders.
On Monday, the conservative National Review endorsed Branstad's assessment of the Iowa Straw Poll in an op-ed, likening it to a “Woodstock for politicos” that needed to be replaced by a more meaningful initiation of Republican presidential campaigns.