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Santorum Scores 3rd at Values Voters Summit

By Ali Carey, Contributing Writer

Social conservatives aren’t very pleased with the front runners of the GOP primary. Neither former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney nor Texas Governor Rick Perry did very well in a straw poll this weekend during the Values Voter Summer, a national meeting of religious conservatives.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul won with 37 percent of the 1,983 votes, followed by former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain at 23 percent.

Former PA Senator Rick Santorum finished in third place with 16 percent of the vote in what was very much a home crowd for the social issues warrior. Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann finished with eight percent each, and 2007 straw poll winner former Romney took four percent.

His campaign was quick to declare it a win. Santorum can add this week’s Value Voter Summit to his list of straw poll successes.  Santorum won the only statewide straw poll in the first-in-the-South state of South Carolina.  In August Santorum finished fourth at the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll, despite being outspent by his opponents.  In September, Santorum finished fourth at the Presidency 5 Straw Poll in Florida.

“The legislation we fought for changed this country for the better, but we blinked and this President has changed this country for the worse; however, the values voters know we can restore the foundation of America and do great things because we’ve done them before. I thank them for their support in the past, their support today, and their support in the future,” said Santorum in a statement.

Santorum National Communications Director Hogan Gidley, said: “Values voters got to see every candidate side-by-side, including the media anointed front runners, and the differences were clear. It’s no wonder Senator Santorum’s vote totals doubled-up Governor Perry’s and Representative Bachmann’s, and quadrupled Governor Romney’s. Rick Santorum is the only one who has led and recorded victories on the issues across the spectrum – social, economic, and defense – and the voters know it.

At the same time, this is probably the clearest sign yet that Cain’s recent rise in the polls is coming at the expense of Santorum, who has consistently tried to distinguish himself from the field based on his opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

Paul habitually performs well at straw polls due to his committed following, but Cain’s recent jump into the top tier likely syphoned Santorum’s support among the socially conservative activists who form the base of his presidential hopes.

4 Responses

  1. Santorum? Who is he??? Since when does the third place guy get attention in a competition? Your article should have been called, Ron Paul Wins Another Straw Poll (but we’re going to ignore him and talk about an insignificant person that history will not remember).

  2. Ron Paul wins the straw poll and the focus is on Santorum who finished 21% points behind Ron Paul?? The ignoring of Ron Paul continues. Ron Paul doesn’t just win straw polls because of his “committed following”…maybe the people actually like his message. Ron Paul is the only candidate who never wavers and is a true constitutionalist. He will get my vote.

  3. 2 +2 = 5

    The Value Voters audience was supposedly the most sympathetic to Santorum, and he couldn’t organize more than 3rd place finish.

    For a long time in the GOP and among Democrats, straw polls were considered a great show of a campaign’s organizational strength, and they were also regarded as a measure of a campaign’s momentum toward victory on election day. Organizations like Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute used to even teach conservative activists how to organize and win straw polls.

    However, when Paul starts to win them, suddenly they’re meaningless. They are so “meaningless” that the Texas GOP had to cancel its straw poll out of fear that Ron Paul would secure an easy straw poll victory over weak incumbent Governor Rick Perry.

    Wait for the next election cycle when Paul is not running; what is left of the vintage media will consider straw polls important again.

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