Just 508 people voted — and the results typically reflect who gave the best speech at the summit, rather than which candidate voters prefer, but, for what it’s worth, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain won the Western Conservative summit straw poll this weekend, with 48 percent of the vote. The as-yet-unannounced Gov. Rick Perry (Tex.) took second, with 13 percent. Both Cain and Perry delivered speeches at the three-day event.

No surprise, really: Cain does nothing so well as he delivers a rousing speech that spotlights conservative principles. That reminds me why I actually think the 2012 GOP field is quite strong, conventional wisdom notwithstanding. Even the non-principal players are positive spokespeople for the ideas of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, etc., etc.

Cain, in particular, is a persistent messenger for the conservative cause — and his persistence has paid off somewhat, with at least one pundit recommending that voters give him a second glance. He ran into hot water with his comments about whether he would feel comfortable appointing a Muslim to his Cabinet if he were president — but he has since apologized.

Not saying he’ll be the nominee or anything, but he’s still out there, making the race more competitive, and that can only help the eventual GOP candidate, whoever he or she might be.