Elephant stampede en route to Colorado

Today, the Colorado GOP announced that it would do away with the delegate straw poll that bound presidential delegates to a candidate, even if the candidate withdrew from the race.  Colorado GOP Chair Steve House insists that the move allows candidates to choose for themselves who to back when it matters most – at the convention.  According to a press release, here’s House’s take:

“Eliminating the straw poll means the delegates we send to the national convention in Cleveland will be free to choose the candidate they feel can best put America back on a path to prosperity and security. No one wants to see their vote cast for an empty chair, especially not on a stage as big as the national convention’s.”

The vote is a result of a relatively new rule implemented by the Republican National Committee, which no longer will allow any state to host non-binding straw polls.

Not everyone is excited about the change.  The Denver Post panned the move writing that it would make the state less relevant in the nominating process, which are the comments the Minnesota GOP echoed.  Earlier this year, Minnesota decided to continue with its straw poll, even though it meant that it would bind delegates. Minnesota’s poll means that it must bind its national delegates proportionately to the winners. According to MinnPost.com:

“State Republican Party Chair Keith Downey says that conducting a binding poll at the Republican precinct caucuses will put the national spotlight on Minnesota along with other states holding caucuses that day – ‘a mini-Super Tuesday,’ he calls it.”

In 2012, of the 2286 delegates to the Republican National Convention, approximately 559 were unbound, which represents just a hair under a quarter of the delegates.  Whether this change gives delegates greater freedom or reduces Colorado’s impact on the presidential primary remains to be seen.