While this should not come as a surprise, I just received official word from the FRC that Mike Huckabee comfortably beat Mitt Romney in the straw poll among actual attendees to last weekend’s Value Voters’ Summit. Though results showed Huckabee trouncing Romney by a 51 percent to 10 percent margin, some Romney supporters insisted that a lot of attendees opted to vote online rather than onsite at the conference. Romney advisor Gary Marx even told Townhall’s Matt Lewis that 1,600 conference attendees voted online. Well, it took a few extra days to tabulate, but I just learned that the actual number was just 62. So, even if you were to give Romney each and every one of those votes, he would still get clobbered by Huckabee, 48 percent to 16 percent. So, at best, Romney lost by a 3-to-1 margin rather than a 5-to-1 margin.
Romney, of course, did slightly edge out Huckabee on the overall online straw poll, which included nearly an extra 5,000 votes. So, if the Romney camp wants to argue that its success in manipulating online straw poll results speaks to organizational prowess, which will translate into superior get out the vote efforts in the caucuses and primaries, fine. But to try and tout this poll as in any way indicative of Romney being the top choice of social conservatives, is pure folly. Anybody who was at the conference for all of the speeches knows that Huckabee was the runaway crowd favorite. And perhaps his showing online against the Romney machine, just as in Ames, demonstrates that his grassroots support could go a long way.
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