Ames Straw Poll Leaving Ames

So I guess from one perspective Terry Branstad got his way: the Iowa governor’s outspoken criticism of the quadrennial Ames Straw Poll didn’t kill the lucrative event. But it won’t be the Ames Straw Poll any more, as the Iowa GOP decided to move it a bit to the north and to the west, to the mighty city of Boone (pop. 12,629), birthplace of Mamie Eisenhower, and more to the point, home of the Central Iowa Expo, a venue for agricultural shows and such (until now the big summer event there was going to be the Hay & Forage Expo in June).

The venue apparently recommended itself to Republicans via lower rental charges than three competitors, including the traditional site at Iowa State University. That means, says GOP officials, lower ticket prices for attendees (and the campaigns that typically pay for most of the tickets), and presumably a bigger profit margin for the state party, for which this is the big fundraiser of the cycle.

But there is one problem: there’s no Hilton Coliseum in Boone–no large air-conditioned indoor facility for speechifying and sheltering from the heat and possible rain. I’m guessing that may mean the candidates all decide to put up their own air-conditioned tents around the venue, which could generate more fees for the state party, and create a more decentralized event. But one thing is for sure: it’s a circus that will not lack for clowns.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.