Saturday, October 20, 2007

Romney Edges Huckabee In "Values Voter" Straw Poll

The big loser in the straw poll at the Family Research Council's annual "Value Voters" straw poll could be the Family Research Council itself.

First the facts, Mitt Romney narrowly edged Mike Huckabee to win the poll. Romney got 1595 votes (27.62 percent) and Huckabee got 1565 (27.15 percent). Ron Paul came in third with 865 votes (14.98 percent). No one else got more than 10 percent of the vote.

Now the problem for the FRC: the people who actually came to the event in Washington and voted on-site went overwhelmingly for Huckabee. All eight Republican presidential candidates spoke at the event, and Huckabee's speech was a real stem-winder, interrupted by applause more than 20 times and by standing ovations nearly a dozen times. He was the overwhelming winner among those who were there -- outpolling Romney 488 to 99, a nearly 5-to-1 margin. When Tony Perkins announced the results of the straw poll this afternoon, the crowd was visibly stunned by how out-of-sync the results were with the sentiments of the "values voters" in attendance.

In fact, at the press conference immediately after the announcement, a non-media attendee "crashed" the Q & A session to chastise Perkins for the way the event was run. Some bloggers and secular media even led their stories with that episode.

Perkins told me, though, that he had "no second thoughts" about the process. "Everyone had the same chance to get their people out," Perkins said. "Huckabee mounted an aggressive on-line campaign, too."

The bottom line: the poll results didn't reflect the true sentiment of "values voters." That's a problem for values voters who wanted their voices heard clearly and unmistakably. What remains to be seen is whether the FRC, given its bungled management of this straw poll, can maintain its position as the point of the values voters' spear.

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