Iowa’s Republican straw poll moved to Boone

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The circus-like Iowa Straw Poll is leaving its long-time host city of Ames and moving down the road to Boone.

Iowa Republican leaders voted Thursday morning to move the event -- which is both a gauge of 2016 presidential contenders' momentum and a fundraiser for the state party -- to the Central Iowa Expo in Boone.

It beat out four other contenders, including Iowa State University, which has hosted it in previous years but charged rental fees that state GOP leaders deemed too steep.

The state party also set a date for the straw poll: Aug. 8.

It'll be circled on the calendars of candidates, activists and journalists ahead of Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses in early February.

The straw poll isn't much of a predictor of the caucuses' outcome. After all, Michele Bachmann won it in 2012 on her way to flaming out of the race, and Mitt Romney won it in 2008 though he was eventually defeated by John McCain for the GOP nomination.

And it appeared to be on the chopping block when, in November 2012, influential Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad said it had "outlived its usefulness."

Some frontrunners could skip it, sensing that the momentum the straw poll affords isn't worth the price of tickets and organizing for it.

But the Central Iowa Expo, Iowa State University, Drake University and the Iowa Speedway all submitted bids to host the event in 2015. "What is Iowa?" a video announcement for the straw poll's site selection said. "We're first in the nation. And this year, it starts in Boone."

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