FRC Washington Briefing: Romney Wins Straw Poll…

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… But that’s not the news. It’s this:

Second — Mike Huckabee

Then there’s:

Third — Ron Paul

Fourth — Fred Thompson

A total 5, 576 voters were cast.

The margin by which Romney won: 30 votes (1595 over 1565), and that close second will likely be the headline for most news orgs. My sense from talking to people who were there was that they were resigned to deciding with their heads, not their hearts (that might as well be the Romney campaign slogan). Huckabee tried to convince them that they didn’t have to. His speech was the most emotionally powerful and most enthusiastically received of the event; afterwards, I talked to a guy who said he took off his Thompson pin after hearing Huck and that he was on his way to vote for him.

The FRC has not (yet) broken down the poll into the online versus attendee results; it will be fascinating if they do, and it might tell us a lot about what Huckabee is capable of when/if he gets a chance to make his case to a large audience. Then again, it’s easier to convince people to vote their hearts in a straw poll than in the real thing.

Oh, and speaking of getting a chance to make his case: A poll came out today showing Thompson with a 10 point lead over Giuliani among Republican weekly churchgoers. It’s tempting to suggest that the explanation for the discrepancy is that most Republican churchgoers haven’t seen Thompson’s lackluster performance on the stump. The FRC attendees have. A more likely explanation is that “churchgoers” are a bigger proportion of the GOP than FRC members are, and might be a little less focused on (as the FRC folks would frame it) “values.” Many I spoke to at the convention liked Thompson well enough but, dull speech or no, couldn’t stomach his federalist view on gay marriage.

UPDATE: Interesting: Huckabee “crushed” among the “actually there” votes, winning over Romney 488 to 99, with about 1000 attendees voting. Also interesting that a vast majority of voters were cast online (where you had to make a $1 donation to the FRC to participate), and yet Ron Paul still didn’t win.

I don’t know if the FRC will further let us know how many votes were cast after Huckabee spoke, which would also tell us something about what he pulled off. And as long as we’re reading too much into things, I wonder if Huckabee’s not-bad showing online also suggests that he’s finally gotten some kind of working organization together — the missing link between dynamic candidate, good press coverage and donations.