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OPINION

Ron Paul wins Value Voter straw poll; Herman Cain second

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Texas Rep. Ron Paul won the Values Voter Summit straw poll Saturday, with the libertarian presidential candidate taking 37 percent of votes at a gathering organized by social conservatives.

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In second place was Herman Cain with 23 percent of the vote, followed by Rick Santorum with 16 percent.

Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann were tied for fourth place, with 8 percent each. Rounding out the pack were Mitt Romney with 4 percent, Newt Gingrich with 3 percent and Jon Huntsman with 0 percent.

Paul, who addressed the summit Saturday morning, had a visibly stronger presence here than he did yesterday. He has traditionally done well in straw polls, thanks to the intense commitment of his fans.

Paul came in a close second in the Ames straw poll in August. He won the CPAC straw poll, held a few blocks away from here at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, earlier this year.

For summit participants who didn’t come in enamored of Paul, the results prompted a bit of eye-rolling.

“Those results probably aren’t accurate,” one voter joked after Paul’s victory was announced. “Cain wowed everybody. He’s good.”

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Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, raised an eyebrow over the straw poll in a Friday interview.

“It sounds like they have a record number of registrants, which means someone’s probably buying a lot of tickets,” he said.

Aside from the strong showing by Paul and Cain, Santorum’s 16 percent of the vote indicates that he has a constituency among social conservatives.

Bachmann’s 8 percent is a sharp drop-off with cultural conservative voters since August, when she won the Iowa straw poll in large part on the strength of their support.

The straw poll also asked attendees who they liked for the vice presidency. The top four finishers were Cain, Bachmann, Santorum and Marco Rubio. No other details were released.

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