Governor Terry Branstad says the Iowa Republican Party’s “straw poll” has had a diminishing impact on the presidential race and it’s time for the party to create new events to take its place.

“A lot of people have had some real questions about the way the straw poll thing has evolved and the straw poll aspect of it — it’s not representative and clearly the results have shown that in recent times because the people that won the straw polls have not won the Caucuses,” Branstad said this morning. “And the Caucuses are what’s most important and that’s what I want to keep the focus on is keeping the precinct caucuses first in the nation.”

The “straw poll” has traditionally been held in Ames in August, a few months before the Iowa Caucuses, but Branstad last week told a Wall Street Journal reporter the event should not be held again. The chairman of the Iowa GOP then suggested that’s not Branstad’s decision to make. Branstad today argued the party doesn’t have control over the event’s future either.

“Really, the candidates are going to decide whether that continues or not and in recent years we’re seeing more and more candidates choose not to participate,” Branstad said this morning during his weekly news conference. “And so I’m trying to look to the future and saying, ‘Let’s come up with a better system , that welcomes all the candidates, that gives people from all parts of Iowa a chance to participate.'”

The governor is also expressing doubts that the last straw poll was a big money-maker for the Iowa Republican Party. He challenged the party to reveal what the fundraising tally was for the August, 2011 event. As you may recall, Michele Bachmann won the last Iowa Republican Party straw poll. She finished sixth in the Iowa Caucuses.

AUDIO of Branstad’s weekly news conference (he was asked about Straw Poll’s future at the 10 minute mark).