Huckabee beats Romney, Palin in soon to be forgotten poll

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    Mike Huckabee supporters go wild after a huge victory at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC? Not exactly. He was the top vote-getter at the conservative conference hosted by the Family Research Council. But these are celebrants at a more exciting event Saturday (Washington Huskies upset the USC Trojans).
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So Mike Huckabee beat Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Tim Pawlenty in a straw poll of potential GOP presidential contenders hosted by the Family Research Council on Saturday.

Woo-hoo.

If the adrenalin isn't pulsating through your body this morning with news of the results at the Values Voter Summit, you're not alone. The Washington Huskies beat USC yesterday. Now that's news. Florida State upended BYU -- blew 'em out. Wow. Virginia Tech topped Nebraska in the last minute of the game. Now that's exciting.

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Sorry, but Huckabee beating Romney at a political conference more than three years before the next presidential election? Missed that one. It didn't come across the ESPN ticker yesterday.

But since this is a political blog, we'll give it its due. And we're not diminishing the conference or the Family Research Council. It's just too early to put much into it. Not to mention the college football was really, really good yesterday.

Now, it's not like no one showed up to the three-day event. They did. More than 2,000 converged on Washington. Attendees met potential candidates, strategized with other social conservative activists, and voted on who they wanted to take on President Obama in 2012.

They were asked: “Thinking ahead to the 2012 presidential election and assuming the nomination of Barack Obama as Democrats’ choice for president, who would you vote for as the Republican nominee for president?”

Of the 597 people who cast ballots, they clearly liked former Governor Huckabee the most as he grabbed 170 of the votes or 28.5 percent of the total. Then it was a four-way tie for second with Romney receiving 74 votes, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty getting 73, Sarah Palin with 72, and Indiana Congressman Mike Pence nabbing 71.

Although some of their supporters might beg to differ, there's no difference between a 74 and a 71 here. This isn't the PGA. At this stage, it's all a tie. And it will all be forgotten shortly.

But if you get down in the weeds, Palin's numbers are notable. Some may argue that she performed poorly. But she, unlike the other second place finishers, didn't attend. She was in Alaska welcoming home her son Track from duty in Iraq. Plus, it's been anything but a smooth year for the 2008 vice presidential nominee.

Huckabee can be pleased with the results. Sure, he's got the home field advantage here. But, remember, he lost to Romney at a similar event back in 2007. It's a good outing for Pawlenty who electrified the crowd on Friday night. It's good for Mike Pence too, who would inevitably sport the lowest name recognition of any of the candidates.

Drilling down further, it's also notable that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich received only 40 votes -- but he didn't attend the conference. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal isn't connecting -- at least with this crowd -- pulling down 28 votes. And former Senator Rick Santorum and Texas Congressman Ron Paul take up the rear with 15 and 13 votes respectively.

Oh yeah, the crowd really liked Carrie Prejean too. You remember her -- the former Miss California title holder. She gave a speech on Friday night that drew the crowd to its feet. But she hasn't signaled her interest in running for the presidency. And then there's that eligibility thing. She couldn't be on the ballot until 2024 anyway.

In terms of issues, as this was a conference for social and religious conservatives it's not surprising that abortion was cited as the most important concern with 41 percent of attendees citing it as their top concern. Protection of religious liberties came in at second with 18 percent of the vote. And opposition to same-sex marriage was a distant third with seven percent citing it as the top issue.

All in all, does it mean much? Nope. But it gives a glimpse into what some social conservatives are thinking. And it provides an outlet for those who aren't interested in football (do these people really exist?).

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