In the days since Republicans lost an election many in the party thought was theirs, chatter has been bubbling about what the GOP should do to recover.

For Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, it starts with the smallest of actions: abandoning the state’s now-infamous straw poll.

Once a festive checkpoint on the road to the leadoff Iowa caucuses, the poll has devolved into a full-blown sideshow, Branstad and other critics contend. They say it’s an unfair and false test that has felled good candidates and kept others from competing in the state.

“It’s just something that’s gotten totally out of control,” said veteran GOP presidential campaign consultant Charlie Black. “It’s been bad for years, but no one has had the guts to say it until now.”

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