Ames Straw Poll

The Ames Straw Poll is a straw poll that takes place in Ames, Iowa, on a Saturday in August of years in an election cycle in which the Republican presidential nomination seems to be undecided (that is, in years without an incumbent Republican President running for re-election). Though several different pre-Iowa Caucus straw polls take place in Iowa, the Ames Straw Poll is by far the most prominent, because it draws voters from all over the state rather than just the local area (Ames is near the geographic center of Iowa, making travel there more convenient), and is thus also commonly known as the Iowa Straw Poll. The Ames Straw Poll was first held in 1979.

Format

The poll takes place among attendees of a fundraising dinner benefiting the Iowa Republican Party. Before the vote, each candidate is given a chance to make a short speech to the attendees.

Non-Republicans are allowed to vote in the Ames Straw Poll. However, all voters must be 18 years of age, be legal residents of the state of Iowa, and purchase a ticket to the fundraising dinner.cite web | title=Iowa Straw Poll Regaining Luster | url=http://www.qctimes.com/articles/2007/07/20/news/local/doc46a04563cde01862465366.txt | last=Dorman | first=Todd | publisher="Quad-City Times" | date=2007-07-20 | accessdate=2007-07-23] Voters have their hands stamped or their thumbs dipped in ink when entering the voting area so that they cannot vote twice. Ballots are put into electronic voting machines.

ignificance

As a straw poll, the Ames Straw Poll's results are non-binding and have no official effect on the presidential primaries. However, the straw poll is frequently seen as a first test of organizational strength in Iowa by the news media and party insiders. As such, it can become very beneficial for the winning candidate on the national level because it builds momentum for their campaign, enhances their aura of inevitability, and shows off a superior field operation.cite web | title=Bush wins Iowa GOP straw poll | url=http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1999/08/14/iowa.saturday.02/ | author=Yagielski, Janine, and Kathleen Hayden | publisher=CNN | date=1999-08-15 | accessdate=2007-07-23]

Since its founding, the winner of the Ames Straw Poll has gone on to win the Republican presidential nomination two out of five times. Three out of five winners (including one of the winners of the 1995 tie), have gone on to win the Iowa Caucus.

On a more local level, the Ames Straw Poll gives a major boost to the local economy.cite web | title=Behind the Straw Poll | url=http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/election/july-dec99/straw_poll_background.html | work=Online NewsHour | publisher=PBS | date=1999-08-13 | accessdate=2007-07-23] Thousands of people, including journalists, campaign staffers, and voters, arrive in town around the time of the poll. The Ames Straw Poll is one of the Iowa Republican Party's most lucrative fundraising events.

Criticisms

The Ames Straw Poll was formerly criticized for having many voters who were not residents of Iowa. Candidates would bus in supporters from other states. However, beginning with the 1999 Ames Straw Poll, all voters were required to show proof of legal residence in Iowa.Before the 1999 Ames Straw Poll, voter fraud was widespread: many individuals managed to vote repeatedly by visiting the bathroom and washing off the stamp on the back of their hand which indicated they had voted. Beginning with the 1999 Ames Straw Poll, the ink used for hand-stamping was changed to one that resisted being washed off.cite web | title=The Ames Straw Poll | url=http://race42008.com/2007/04/26/the-ames-straw-poll/ | author=MattC | date=2007-04-26 | accessdate=2007-07-23] In 2007, instead of hand-stamping, thumbs were dipped in indelible ink.]

In 2007, the Ames Straw Poll has also been criticized for having only 14,302 voters participating in 2007, compared to about 23,000 voters eight years earlier in the 1999 polls, and for failing to have three of the four leading candidates participate in the poll, Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain and Fred Thompson. Consequently the votes received by Mitt Romney and second-place finisher Mike Huckabee have failed to demonstrate the consequence of full competition among all candidates.] The poll has been criticized for heavily favoring better-funded candidates, as better-funded candidates are able to afford transportation costs to bus in more supporters and to reimburse those supporters for meal tickets.After the 2007 Ames Straw Poll, some Ron Paul supporters contended that the Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold Election Systems) voting machines were inaccurate or rigged. [] They said that the announced vote was much fewer than the number of tickets sold and that exit polls showed Paul doing much better.

Results

ummary of results

10,958 voters participated in the 1995 Ames Straw Poll. Bob Dole and Phil Gramm won with a tie. Bob Dole would go on to win the Republican nomination.

August 14, 1999

Sources of results: Iowa Republican Party, PBScite web | title=The First GOP Test: Online NewsHour Coverage of the Iowa Straw Poll | url=http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/election/july-dec99/straw_poll.html | work=Online NewsHour | publisher=PBS | accessdate=2007-07-23]

A record 23,685 voters participated in the 1999 Ames Straw Poll, held at the Hilton Coliseum. George W. Bush was cemented as the frontrunner by the results of the Ames Straw Poll and eventually went on to win the primaries and the presidential election; his only serious challenge afterwards for the Republican nomination came from John McCain, whose poor performance in the straw poll was due to the fact that he did not officially declare his candidacy until September, the month after the straw poll. Due to poor results in the Ames Straw Poll, Lamar Alexander and Dan Quayle both dropped out of the presidential race immediately after the Ames Straw Poll. Elizabeth Dole and Pat Buchanan dropped out of the Republican race within a month after the Ames Straw Poll, though Pat Buchanan continued his presidential campaign as a Reform Party candidate instead.

August 11, 2007

Sources of results: CBS Newscite web | title=Romney Wins Iowa GOP Straw Poll | url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/11/politics/main3158768.shtml/ | last=Ververs | first=Vaughn | publisher=CBS News | date=2007-08-11 | accessdate=2007-08-11] , "Des Moines Register"cite web| title=Romney Wins Straw Poll, Huckabee in 2nd | author=Beaumont, Thomas, and Jennifer Jacobs | url=http://www.dmregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070811/NEWS/70811009/1001&lead=1 | publisher="Des Moines Register" | date=2007-08-11 | accessdate=2007-08-11] , KCCI cite web| title=Mitt Romney Wins Straw Poll | url=http://www.kcci.com/politics/13872905/detail.html | publisher="KCCI" | date=2007-08-12 | accessdate=2007-08-12]

14,302 ballots were cast in the 2007 Ames Straw Poll,cite web| title=Mitt Romney Wins Straw Poll | url=http://www.kcci.com/politics/13872905/detail.html | publisher="KCCI" | date=2007-08-12 | accessdate=2007-08-12] which took place on August 11 at Iowa State University.cite web | title=Straw poll No-Shows Zap Iowa's Relevance, Some Fear | url=http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070618/NEWS09/706180340/-1/LIFE04&template=printart | last=Beaumont | first=Thomas | publisher="Des Moines Register" | date=2007-06-18 | accessdate=2007-07-23]

In June, two months before the poll, presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and John McCain announced that they would skip the 2007 Ames Straw Poll, while Fred Thompson had yet to officially enter the race. The Iowa Republican Party decided to include their names on the ballots anyway.cite web | title=Giuliani, McCain Skipping Ames Straw Poll | url=http://blog.washingtonpost.com/thefix/2007/06/giuliani_skipping_ames.html | first=Chris | last=Cilliza | work=The Fix | publisher="The Washington Post" | date=2007-06-06 | accessdate=2007-07-23] Mitt Romney won the straw poll, as had been widely predicted prior to the event.

Tommy Thompson dropped out of the Presidential campaign on August 12, 2007, one day after finishing in sixth place in the Ames Straw Poll. [cite web | title=Tommy Thompson Officially Ends Presidential Bid | url=http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/08/13/tommy_thompson_officially_ends_presidential_bid/ | publisher="The Boston Globe" | date=2007-08-13 | accessdate=2007-09-06] [cite web | title=Thompson Drops Out of Race After Poor Showing in Iowa Poll | url=http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/politics/july-dec07/tthompson_08-13.html | publisher=PBS | date=2007-08-13 | accessdate=2007-09-06] [cite web | title=Tommy Thompson Bows Out of Race | url=http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/08/12/tommy-thompson-bows-out-of-race/?ref=politics | publisher=The New York Times | work=The Caucus | date=2007-08-12 | accessdate=2007-09-06]

References

ee also

* Iowa Caucus
* United States presidential primary
* Straw polls for the Republican Party (United States) presidential nomination, 2008

External links

* [http://www.iowagop.net/ Official site of the Iowa Republican Party, which sponsors the Ames Straw Poll]
* [http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/election/july-dec99/straw_poll_background.html Origin of the Ames Straw Poll]
* [http://race42008.com/2007/04/26/the-ames-straw-poll/ Discussion of history of the Ames Straw Poll]


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