The Elephant in the Straw Poll

“We … tried in January to meet with the Executive Director of the Iowa GOP, but we were told pretty bluntly that he ‘didn’t have time for RedState.’ ”

I have had a number of people on twitter and elsewhere ask why the RedState Gathering could not be placed on the calendar at a time other than the Iowa Straw Poll.  The short answer is: we tried.


For the last several years, we have held the RedState Gathering on the first full Thursday to Sunday in August.  We do it for a number of reasons, but specifically because it is about the last chance in the summer for folks to hit the road for something before school starts.

This year, we were mindful that this could potentially conflict with the Iowa Straw Poll, so we looked at dates ranging from starting July 30th to starting August 13th.  We reached out to the Republicans in Iowa, who were very insistent that the Straw Poll would coincide with the Iowa State Fair, as it always had.  In August of 2014, as we concluded the last RedState Gathering, we announced we would set this year’s Gathering for the week before the Iowa State Fair.

The Iowa State Fair is set to start on August 13th, so that left us setting the event on August 6th.

We reached back out to the people in Iowa to make sure there would be no conflict.  Everyone told us there would be no conflict.  See the chart below that shows the dates of the two events. With the exception of 1987, they have, in fact, always coincided.

So in November of 2014 we formally announced the RedState Gathering would be held on August 6-9 in Atlanta in 2015. The morning of the 9th is a casual breakfast where attendees can say their goodbyes to each other.  The main event is the 7th and 8th with a party on the night of the 6th. This year it will be a debate watching party and discussion with Joe Scarborough.


Despite all of this and our reaching out to key contacts within the Republican Party in Iowa repeatedly, the Iowa GOP announced in February that it would put the straw poll on August 8th during the RedState Gathering.  We had, by the way, even tried in January to meet with the Executive Director of the Iowa GOP when we got wind they may be looking to move the straw poll, but we were told pretty bluntly that he “didn’t have time for RedState.”

Folks, we tried.  It seemed like a win-win. The southern states are coordinating an “SEC” primary, so the candidates could be in Atlanta the day after the first debate then head en masse to Iowa for a week of campaigning in the run up to the straw poll. That’s a no brainer from a scheduling standpoint and a great way to build momentum for both the Iowa Straw Poll and the candidates in general. But the Iowans thought otherwise.

I hate that candidates are having to scramble, particularly with a debate on the night of August 6th. We were very mindful of the potential conflict and did all the due diligence possible to make sure this would not happen. I did not realize the folks in Iowa consider themselves owning a monopoly on both the first Presidential caucus and the entire month of August prior to election year. I just thank the candidates for coming to the event and then heading to Iowa.  We are going to have a great time and, thankfully, the candidates will not have to worry about bussing supporters into the event only to worry about winning and having the press corps declare the winner the second coming of [mc_name name=’Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001256′ ] 2012 or losing and being compared to Pawlenty 2012.


Such is life.

I hope you’ll consider coming to the RedState Gathering. REGISTER HERE.


Straw Poll

State Fair

September 12, 1987

August 20, 1987

August 19, 1995

August 10, 1995

August 14, 1999

August 12, 1999

August 11, 2007

August 9, 2007

August 13, 2011

August 11, 2011

August 8, 2015

August 13, 2015



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