Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is the favored 2012 presidential nominee among social conservatives, according to a straw poll released this afternoon.
Huckabee came in first place by a wide margin against eight other prospective nominees with 170 votes out of 597 cast over two days of balloting at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
“I think [Huckabee] was surprised and encouraged by it,” said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a sponsor of the event. “He’s probably doing a lot of soul searching over whether or not he’s going to run,” he said.
There was nearly a four-way tie for second place between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (74 votes), Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (73 votes), former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (72 votes), and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence (71 votes).
While Palin has generally polled very high among self-described social conservatives, she was notably behind three other Republicans in the straw poll. Palin was invited to attend but did not. Perkins said her decision not to appear likely affected the result. “I think that clearly makes a difference,” he said.
Of the nine candidates on the ballot, just four spoke during the conference: Huckabee, Pawlenty, Pence, and Romney.
Further down the ballot was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (40 votes), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (28 votes), former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (15 votes), Texas Rep. Ron Paul (13 votes). There were 31 “undecided” votes cast and 10 votes for persons not listed on the ballot.
About one-third of the 1,850 in attendance cast ballots in the straw poll. The results are unscientific but do provide a pulse check on where the socially conservative wing of the GOP is leaning. Link
Dear God - please Rapture these nutjobs from the Earth so that the rest of us can live in Peace!