The Iowa Republican Party voted unanimously on Friday to kill the the state's presidential straw poll, which has traditionally signaled the opening of the presidential primary season for years.
The poll's significance had waned in recent years. In 2011, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) won but went on to place sixth in the state's caucuses and ultimately drop out of the race. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty also committed significant sums of money in hopes of winning the straw poll but dropped out of the race after finishing in disappointing third place. And a number of candidates running for president in 2016 -- including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee -- declared they would not spend precious resources to compete in the event.
"This step, while extremely distasteful for those of us who love the Straw Poll, is necessary to strengthen our First in the Nation status and ensure our future nominee has the best chance possible to take back the White House in 2016," Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement.
The straw poll's demise comes at perhaps the worst time for the party. In the past, it has served as a way to naturally winnow the pool of presidential contenders. As many as 15 Republicans may run for president this cycle -- perhaps the GOP's deepest bench in history -- practically guaranteeing a long and bruising race that may prove disadvantageous to the party's eventual nominee once the general election begins.