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N.H. GOP Cancels Straw Poll

Fearing it would detract from the state's earliest-in-the-nation primary, the state Republican Party has canceled a planned presidential straw poll.

Party chairman Steve Duprey said Thursday night the autumn event would have brought in more than $100,000 for the party, but instead will be replaced by a family-day event at the Hopkinton Fairgrounds Oct. 23. He said such an event is more in line with the style of the primary, with candidates and voters meeting each other.

"The initial thinking was: We have a unique franchise; let's exploit it more," Duprey said. "We're at a stage in the life cycle of this primary that we can't afford to do anything that might jeopardize it."

Duprey denied the straw poll, which would have been the first for the party, was canceled because Texas Gov. George W. Bush refused to attend. Without Bush, the front-runner in the race for the party nomination, the straw poll would have lost much of its luster, and other candidates for the nomination might have dropped out.

Straw polls, such as one being held in Iowa on Aug. 14, test a campaign's organizational strength, since the campaign that gathers the most supporters wins the poll. They also favor the campaign with the most money since they sometimes pay for voters' transportation and lodging as well as other organizational expenses.

The Bush campaign entered the Iowa poll, and paid $43,500 to secure a prime spot of lawn and sidewalk in front of Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, the day of the poll.

The Bush campaign did not say why it chose to participate in Iowa and not in New Hampshire except to say the Iowa leadership "recommended that this would be the best use of resources in that state," said spokeswoman Mindy Tucker.

The New Hampshire straw poll was going to cost voters $25 each.

"My job is to make sure we have a good primary," Duprey said. "This kind of straw poll is a dollar contest. It puts too much opportunity in the hands of the candidates who have more resources."

Former N.H. Gov. Judd Gregg agreed.

"I think all those polls are a waste," he said. "The guy who buys the most tickets wins. It's a good promotion, but New Hampshire doesn't need that."

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