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Why Ron Paul did well among social conservatives at the Values Voter Summit

Ron Paul won the Values Voter Summit presidential straw poll of Republican hopefuls by a relative whopping 37 percent of the vote. His combination of organized supporters and a strong biblical theme worked well.

By Staff writer / October 9, 2011

US Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul of Texas addresses the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in Washington on Saturday, October 8, 2011. Rep. Paul won the straw poll vote.

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At this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, sponsored by the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, and other like-minded organizations, you’d expect a strong social conservative – say, Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum – to do well in a mock election among Republican presidential hopefuls.

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But, no, it was libertarian Ron Paul who won the day, taking a relative whopping 37 percent of the vote – way ahead of Bachmann (8 percent) and Santorum (16 percent), even besting current conservative favorite Herman Cain (23 percent).

Ron Paul? The man who says the federal government has no authority to regulate recreational drugs, prostitution, and same-sex marriage? Who says he would not have ordered the killing of al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki?

This kind of thing has happened before at special interest gatherings. For two years in a row now, Paul has won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll under similar circumstances.

There’s no doubt that Paul supporters are –“stuffing the ballot box” isn’t the right phrase – showing up at such gatherings in a way to give their man a good showing. Nothing wrong with that.

Tony Perkins, who heads the Family Research Council, points out that some 600 people registered Saturday morning (not for the full weekend, and many of them students who paid the lowest entry fee) voted for Paul, then left after he spoke.

Of the 3,400 people who attended, 1,983 voted. “You do the math,” Perkins told reporters.

Still, although Paul may carry a strong libertarian message with tea party crossovers, he does not do particularly well in state and national polls asking who the GOP should pick as their champion to challenge Barack Obama.

In the most recent Gallup poll, taken in mid-September, he came in third (with 13 percent) behind Mitt Romney (24 percent) and Rick Perry (31 percent). In a more recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, Paul gets 11 percent among the general population and 9 percent among registered voters (figures that have held steady for months).

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