David Brody on the straw poll results:
Romney Wins Value Voter Straw Poll...Wait. Is Huckabee the Winner?
I'm not sure how to explain this. Let's start with this. Technically, Mitt Romney won the big Value Voters Straw poll but it’s not that simple. The vote was open to people online and in that sense, Romney won with 1595 votes compared to Mike Huckabee’s 1565 votes. It was just a 30 vote difference. But for the people that actually voted onsite, it was no contest. Huckabee won 488 votes to Romney’s second place 99. That’s called a thumpin’. Look at the results here.
Here’s what I make of all of this. Romney might be able to claim victory but the onsite voting is a better barometer. Still, the press release the Family Research Council sent out says it's Romney and doesn't even mention the onsite polling. Read it here. We should point out that there's already stories about emails circulating to pump the online vote for Romney. Read more here. Clearly, the people that actually heard the speeches thought Huckabee was the best candidate there. It would be one thing if Huckabee and Romney were neck and neck for onsite voting but for Huckabee to be such an overwhelming onsite winner, that is saying something.
Here’s what it says. It says that you have social conservatives that are ready to embrace him and he’s ready to embrace them. That speech he made on Saturday was electric. I was there. I saw the crowd. They ate it up. See more on Huckabee's speech here. But let’s call a spade a spade. You have Evangelical leaders that are reluctant to back him because he’s having a hard time raising money and putting what they see as a top notch organization in place. He needs their support. He’s going to have to earn it. If social conservatives really want Huckabee so bad, then they'll need to put their money where their mouths are.
Having said all that, Huckabee is poised now to really take off. Why? Two words: Sam Brownback. With Brownback out of the race, many of the votes may go to Huckabee. That could translate into some marginally better poll numbers. Plus, Huckabee can claim victory here and go around the country saying that social conservatives have spoken and that he’s the guy. Romney will make that same claim but don't tell me for a second that the onsite margin differential doesn't have some in the campaign concerned. Maybe because Huckabee is financially challenged, they're not too worried.
It’s going to be interesting to watch the spin coming out of both the Huckabee and Romney camps. Each will claim victory. Each campaign will be right. Read more here and here.
By the way, in terms of onsite polling, Fred Thompson finished with 77 votes after people heard him speak. Rudy Giuliani finished with 60 votes. I think the Giuliani team will take that number and as for the Thompson number, I’m sure they were hoping to do better than that.
The story today is Huckabee.