According to the principal organizer of the Values Voters Summit, the group’s own straw poll should not be taken seriously.
Following a victory by Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told CNN on Monday morning that the win was merely an “outlier,” suggesting the group’s poll was actually “irrelevant.”
“Ron Paul bussed in over 600 people not to attend the conference but to hear is speech and vote,” he said. “I give them credit for being organized.”
A total of 1,983 ballots were cast, with Paul taking 732.
Perkins claimed that Paul’s win was not “truly reflective of where values voters stand,” and instead praised former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain.
“I think there’s something to be said about his results in the straw poll,” Perkins said.
During the presidential primary season, numerous Republican organizations typically compete for clout by holding their own straw polls, which television media often cite as reason to promote one candidate over another.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), for example, enjoyed time in the spotlight after winning the Iowa straw poll, and even had a fair share of pundits and anchors calling her a “frontrunner.”
The same will not be said of Paul.
While Paul certainly did have organized support at the Values Voters Summit, the practice is quite common for straw polls, which are mainly used as fundraisers for various organizations. That’s exactly how Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll in August, where she narrowly edged out Paul by less than 200 votes.
Even then, as Bachmann was celebrated by her supporters and some in media, Paul’s runner-up status was largely ignored in favor of other contenders.
Perkins had previously insisted that campaigns buying tickets in large blocs was not being allowed at their summit, claiming they would “preserve the integrity of this straw poll.”
His comments Monday morning would seem to be a reversal of sorts, and could discourage future participation if Republican voters see the poll as no longer being influential going forward.
Values Voters participants paid $99 apiece to attend.
Paul placed second-to-last in the 2010 Values Voters poll, with most support going to Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.