For better or worse, another season of Presidential politics is now underway. Several candidates hoping to win the Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama next year took part in the Iowa straw poll over the weekend. The poll has often been a key event for many campaigns hoping to drum up name recognition and financial support.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann picked up a win by taking first in the straw poll, giving the candidate an early boost in the media and a spot on all five TV networks Sunday morning talk shows. UW-Madison Political Scientist Charles Franklin says that’s about all the poll is really good for, other than also serving as a fundraiser for the GOP.

Franklin says the outcome of the poll has seldom been a good indicator of who will end up with the nomination. Since 1979, only two candidates have won the nomination after coming in first in the poll.

The poll results were important enough to some though. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty dropped out after a third place finish Saturday. Franklin says such fluctuations are to be expected in the coming months, as candidates decided to abandon a bid because they are failing to drum up the support needed to run for president.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:06)

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