Tuesday, March 11, 2014

As Spiker Goes, So Goes the Ames Straw Poll?

FHQ must admit, we had a different reaction to news over the weekend that Republican Party of Iowa chairman, AJ Spiker, had opted to step down from his post. Well, FHQ had a different reaction relative to the impact the change will have on the future of the Iowa caucuses or the Ames Straw Poll. On the latter, it has been reported for months that Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA) has recommended suspending the event altogether. And that forces in the state/party aligned with the governor were able to overrun precinct caucuses earlier in the year and county conventions this past weekend -- combined with Spiker's resignation -- could indicate that the end is nigh.


However, in FHQ's mind, one question emerges: Was this recommendation/proposal -- to end the straw poll -- a reaction to the perceived structural problems the event represents (see 2011) or a function of intra-party opposition to the liberty movement-aligned leadership in the state party?

Time may or may not provide us with an accurate answer to this question. Yet, I am puzzled by the notion that a mainstream/establishment faction within the Republican Party of Iowa would demonstrate in 2014 the organizational wherewithal necessary to wrest control of the state party back from the liberty movement faction -- one that out-organized them in 2012 -- only to unilaterally surrender a big, quadrennial fund-raising event in 2015. [They couldn't organize a "better" straw poll?] The argument all along has been that straw poll participants/caucusgoers in Iowa skew rightward ideologically. Furthermore, [and this is an argument, not FHQ's position] the contention has been that the Spiker chairmanship would only exacerbate that issue, making Iowa a less attractive option at the front of the 2016 presidential primary calendar.

But if the more mainstream faction within the party can flex its organizational muscle in midterm caucuses and perhaps elect one of their own as chairman, does this remain an issue? I don't know. But there is at least some reason to doubt that the Ames Straw Poll is going anywhere in 2015.

Postscript: And allow me to dismiss outright this idea that the RNC can still change its rules and that Iowa's first in the nation status is somehow at risk. Yes, the RNC can still change its rules any time before August 30. However, so long as the Democratic National Committee keeps Iowa up front -- and there is no indication that the DNC will make any changes to the carve-outs on its side -- the motivation for the RNC to make any changes is greatly diminished.

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