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Florida GOP Taking Center Stage Over Iowa in 2016?

by Javier Manjarres

Could the Iowa straw poll, which has proven to help shape the presidential field of candidates over the past several election cycles, be on its way to being shelved in 2016? And could this benefit the Republican Party of Florida? Last month Iowa’s Republican Governor Terry Branstad told the Wall street Journal that “”It has been a great fundraiser for the party but I think its days are over.”

But while many side with Brantstad that the Iowa straw poll is more of a sideshow than a viable election gauging tool, there are those who want the poll to continue because it(poll  has shown to have helped some of the less known and under-funded candidate gain much needed name recognition and campaign momentum.

In 2008, Republican presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee’s second place Straw Poll finish gave much needed light to the dark horse candidate.  And in 2012, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann won the poll, instantly boosting her to frontrunner status. Congressman Ron Paul finished in a close second place, emboldening his base even more than it already was.

“Gov. Branstad is wrong, and this is not a decision he will make anyway,” said A.J. Spiker, who played a key role in orchestrating Ron Paul’s second place finish 15 months ago. “It is a decision the party and the candidates will make…I am surprised any Iowan would ever talk it down.”-(Source)

While it can be the wind in the sail, the poll can also be the nail the campaign coffin. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty finished dead last in the poll, ending his Presidential run.

Straw poll critics point out the last two GOP presidential nominees, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Mitt Romney did not participate in the poll.

So let’s just say that Iowa does away with the poll, what does this mean for Florida? Florida has long been trying to be the focus of the election season, especially in the 2012 cycle where the Republican Party of Florida was penalized for moving up their state’s primary. Does this mean that Florida’s Republican Presidential poll taken at the state Republican Party’s ‘Presidential’ convention becomes the bellwether event for Republican politics? Would the poll become the new “Iowa straw poll’ of the south that could very well dictate who will become the Republican presidential nominee?

Chances are that Iowa will keep their straw poll because of the obvious and negative economic ramifications to the state, were the poll to be shelved. Why would the press and/or future presidential candidates and their constituent’s even bother to campaign in Iowa during election season, if the buildup to a possible deciding poll was absent?

Expect Florida’s Republican establishment to be mulling over this post, and wondering what, if anything else they can do make Florida more enticing in 2016 and beyond. We reached out to the Republican Party of Florida for comment, but the powers that be would not, or could not comment on the matter. Apparently some in the party are still hung up on blaming the Romney campaign for the  Republican losses suffered throughout the state.

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About author

Javier Manjarres

As the managing editor of The Shark Tank, Javier was awarded the 2011 CPAC Blogger of the Year. Countless videos and articles from the Shark Tank have been featured on Fox News, The Hill, Wall Street Journal, and other national news publications. Javier has also appeared on Univision’s “Al Punto” and numerous radio shows, including being the weekly 92.5 Fox News' DayBreak with Drew Steele political contributor, as well as one of NewsmaxTV's conservative commentators.

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  • KS

    Candidates and all of the press will still go to Iowa because of the Caucuses. Witness Marco going there recently.

    But if the straw poll is cancelled, it’ll be a relief to everyone but the Iowa GOP, for whom it’s nothing more than a fundraiser. A tiny number of voters command a disproportionate level of attention for something that is truly meaningless. It’s a giant pain in the ass to participating campaigns, who spend tons of money turning out voters that are overwhelmingly evangelical and unrepresentative of the greater GOP electorate. All for a vote that doesn’t count.

    Florida couldn’t replicate the Iowa Straw poll. FL is too big geographically and its citizens are too disinterested in politics 15 or so months before an election. No prez campaigns would agree to participate.