Ron Paul wins Values Voter Summit straw poll

Another straw poll has come and gone and, yet again, a familiar face rises to the top. Ron Paul brings home the bouquet for best organizational skills at a conservative event in ringing up straw poll votes at the Values Voter Summit.

The Texas congressman and presidential candidate who remains in the single digits in most national polls emerged as the choice of 37 percent of those who cast ballots at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who has been surging in national presidential primary polls, came in second with 23 percent of the vote, followed by Rick Santorum who garnered 16 percent. Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann tied for fourth — both with 8 percent.

Current GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, who addressed the conference on Saturday, wound up near the bottom of the pack with 4 percent.

I know that Jon Stewart is going to yell at me for this, but once again it may be time to look past the top vote getter and see if there is anything to glean from the also-rans in the pack. Herman Cain walked away with what can only be described as a clear victory, following a rousing speech on Friday which brought the house down. Obviously, straw polls are still one of the least reliable predictors on a national scale. (Just ask Michele Bachmann after Iowa.) And Congressman Paul has a following which is notorious for their incredibly effective organizational skills and ability to turn out straw poll votes.

But Cain is looking less and less like some sort of flash in the pan. He’s registering a string of victories in high profile events such as this which both politicos and donors are closely watching. Those same people may serve notice to Mitt Romney, who continues to lead in many national polls but can’t afford too many black eyes like this with Perry and Cain nipping at his heels.

Speaking of Perry, though… you’d think this audience would be tailor made for him. How did he manage to only tie with Bachmann near the bottom of the pack? Was it the debate performances? The rock outside his leased hunting camp? His last quarter fundraising numbers were nothing to sneeze at, but why didn’t it translate here? Sure, he beat Mitt, but is that really much of an achievement with the base? And… Rick Santorum? Is his recent plea to Sarah Palin paying off without her even giving him the time of day yet?

You sort it out, folks. If nothing else, it’s a fun weekend parlor game.

Update (Ed): I attended the post-poll press conference, and to say that the Values Voters Summit organizers are skeptical of Paul’s win is an understatement.  Tony Perkins twice noted that 600 tickets were bought this morning, and that a great many people left after Paul’s speech.  The conference sold 3406 registrations, well over their 2007 record of around 2700.  If half of those 600 were Paul ringers and we take them out of the equation, then Cain would have finished first, 27/26 with Santorum at 19%.  If 80% of today’s registrants were Paul ringers and are removed, Cain would have had 32% of the vote, followed by Santorum at 23% and Perry in third place with 12%.  Just something to keep in mind.

Also, Paul won the VP straw poll with 285 votes, with Bachmann in second place and Cain narrowly in third.  Rubio came in fourth.

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