Iowa True Blue: The Straw That Broke the Donkey's Back
Excerpted from this post at Iowa True Blue
When I was chair of the Iowa Democratic Party (back in the day), one of the questions I heard most often in the months leading up to the 2004 Iowa Caucuses was, "Why don't Iowa Democrats do a straw poll like Iowa Republicans do?" ... There's a simple, clear cut answer to why the Iowa Democratic Party doesn't do a straw poll and doesn't allow county parties to do them either: it's against the Democratic National Committee rules. That's because it would give Iowa two bites at the apple -- a pre-contest in addition to the one that counts in January . . . or December as the case may be). ... Don't get me wrong -- I'm a junkie for almost any kind of poll. I remember watching with fascination on C-Span the phenomenon that was George W. Bush at the 1999 straw poll (at that event, the Bush campaign blew through its self-imposed spending cap of $750,000 to buy even more $25 tickets to hand out). And I must admit I admire with envy the gobs and gobs of money the Iowa Republican Party is able to raise through the event. I'm not naive about the importance of money in presidential campaigns -- it's a valid measure of a candidate's strength and without enough of it, a campaign is doomed. Still, though, a contest of who can buy the most votes in a straw poll doesn't seem like a very rational way to determine the serious contenders, which is what the Iowa Republican straw poll will do.