Around 3,000 people took part in the Values Voter Summit Straw Poll today and the results more or less confirm the absolute uselessness of these political exercises. Ron Paul, not exactly the most socially conservative person in the race—in fact, quite the opposite—trounced the rest of the field with 37 percent of the vote. (His speech was "peppered with Biblical reference," according to USA Today's On Politics blog. Surely a strategic decision.) But a more likely explanation for Paul's strong showing is that gaggle of diehard supporters who reliably show up to every straw poll; a feat of organization that has yet to translate into double digit nationally. In second place with 23 percent was Herman Cain, who placed similarly well in the Florida and Michigan straw polls two weeks ago and was a real crowd pleaser when he spoke at the gathering yesterday. This is good news for the Georgia businessman, who, for the first time, has something even resembling a national campaign. And in third was Rick Santorum, who, granted, is one of the few steadfastly pro-life, anti-gay rights candidates in the field but—sorry to break it to you like this Rick—simply has zero chance of winning.
And what of our returned-from-the-wilderness front-runner and Tea Party heavy-hitters, you ask? Well, they could've probably saved themselves the hassle and not even shown up at Washington D.C.'s Omni Shoreham Hotel. Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann were tied with 8 percent each, half the share Santorum had. Perry is likely still paying for his perceived HPV-vaccine-fascism and caring about the children of illegals. Bachmann's campaign has been pelted with so much bad news of late that her people may actually be happy it didn't turn out worse. As for Mitt Romney, he barely registered. (The tepid applause he garnered throughout his speech this morning said as much.) His take: four percent. It might not be the Mormon issue necessarily—despite the best efforts of Pastor Robert Jeffress and American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer—but these values voters simply don't like Mitt Romney.
For more news and color from the Values Voter Summit, be sure to check out Intel Dan's dispatches from the scene, below.
Paul Wins Values Voter Summit Straw Poll [USA Today]
Related: Hello, From the Values Voter Summit
Things You Would See at the Values Voter Summit
Chatting With Two Guys Dressed As Colonial Historical Figures
Herman Cain Is an Applause Machine
The Mormon Discussion That Was Always Going to Happen Is Now Happening
Bill Bennett Slams Pastor Robert Jeffress
Values Voter Summit Showdown: Mitt Romney vs. Bryan Fischer