Iowa Republicans Shake Up The Famed Straw Poll

Image: BESTPIX  Republican Candidates Campaign In Iowa Ahead Of Debate And Straw Poll
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 11: Voters put corn kernals into jars with their favorite Republican presidential candidates on the first day of the Iowa State Fair August 11, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. The candidates, including Mitt Romney, John Huntsman and Newt Gingrich, visited the fair ahead of Saturday's Iowa Straw Poll to greet voters and engage in traditional Iowa campaigning rituals. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

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The famous Iowa Straw Poll will have a new location in the Hawkeye State for the first time since the poll was created in 1979, the Republican Party of Iowa announced Thursday morning.

The Central Iowa Expo Grounds in Boone, Iowa will host this year’s event on August 8th.

“Iowa’s agricultural background has always captured the national imagination, and we feel the Central Iowa Expo will help us showcase this heritage,” Chairman of the Iowa Republican Party Jeff Kaufmann said. “This venue also allows us to keep ticket prices affordable, ensuring families from across Iowa can participate in this one-of-a-kind event."

The straw poll – a state party fundraiser filled with music and food – is held each summer before the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus typically on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames.

Republicans have held the event every four years since 1979 but winning the summer event has not necessarily translated into success in the Iowa Caucus.

In 2011, former Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann won the straw poll but then went on to place sixth in the January 2012 caucus. The eventual Republican nominee former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney did not even participate in the summer event.

This trend has caused some – including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad – to question whether the event is still relevant and should be continued.

"I think the straw poll has outlived its usefulness," Branstad told the Wall Street Journal. “It has been a great fundraiser for the party but I think its days are over."

The state party has chosen to move forward with the event but giving it a new look in Boone at the same venue newly elected Sen. Joni Ernst will hold her inaugural Roast and Ride event in June.

The governor praised the location change, saying he "couldn't be happier," noting that it makes the event "more accessible to every Iowan."

- Alex Moe

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