image I don’t really put any stock in straw polls like the one that took place during the Value Voters Summit last week.  I don’t simply because it isn’t an accurate reflection of the electorate or even value voters for that matter since only Family Research Council Action members who were present at the event could vote.  Also only those who actually speak at the Value Voters Summit do well.  So the fact that Sarah Palin was only 5th doesn’t surprise me, that she did as well as she did without being there does surprise me.  She opted instead to speak at the Iowa GOP Reagan Dinner on Friday night.  I  would encourage her to make it a priority to speak there next year if invited, as I believe it would be a good venue for her.

What did surprise me is that Representative Mike Pence (R-Indiana) topped former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (who was last year’s winner), albeit not by much.

I don’t think a straw poll win warrants much analysis here, but Representative Pence is known as a strong fiscal conservative and an ideas guy (he worked in a think tank in Indiana).  In light that the House Republican leadership wanted to avoid the abortion and marriage issues with this year’s election agenda; Pence’s comments during the Summit that voters demand social conservative principles from national GOP leadership resonated in a major way.  So those comments and his fiscal bona fides I’m sure contributed to his success in the straw poll.

How does this actually reflect on 2012?  I think the only person this poll really impacts is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  Consider that Romney won in 2007, and has gone down in this straw poll every year since despite making an appearance every year shows lost ground with social conservatives.  That will not help him win early caucus and primary states of Iowa and South Carolina.  Romney has polled well nationally, but he did in 2008 as well.

Huckabee as recent scientific polls have indicated is a contender.  I don’t think this this straw poll necessarily indicate an erosion of support among social conservatives, but they are open to exploring other candidates as well like Palin, Gingrich, and Pence.  Newt Gingrich has some ground to gain among social conservatives, and his marital history I’m sure is one of the primary reasons he didn’t do as well in this straw poll.

As far as Representative Pence, the main disadvantage for him is this… he is a Representative.  I’m trying to think back to the last time a Representative was nominated to run for President (in either party), let alone win.  I also firmly believe Republicans will nominate somebody with executive experience this year (which is what I tend to favor).  He is also behind in terms of name recognition.  In terms of his policy positions, he is incredibly strong which makes him a viable pick to run on the GOP ticket.

Presidential Candidate Name Total Votes Percentage

Mike Pence   170    24%
Mike Huckabee 159  22%
Mitt Romney 93 13%
Newt Gingrich 72   10%
Sarah Palin 51  7%
Rick Santorum 39  5%
Jim DeMint 38  5%
Bobby Jindal 15  2%
Mitch Daniels 13  2%
Chris Christie 11 2%
John Thune 11  2%
Bob McDonnell 10  1%
Marco Rubio   10  1%
Paul Ryan   7  1%
Haley Barbour  6  1%
Ron Paul  5  1%
Jan Brewer  1 0%
Undecided  12   2%

Vice Presidential Candidate Responses:

Mike Pence  119  16%
Sarah Palin 112  15%
Rick Santorum 75  10%
Paul Ryan  51  7%
Jim DeMint 45  6%
Mike Huckabee 43  6%
Marco Rubio 43  6%
Bobby Jindal  36 5%
Bob McDonnell 31  4%
Chris Christie 25  3%
Mitt Romney 25  3%
Newt Gingrich  24  3%
Jan Brewer 20 3%
John Thune  15 2%
Mitch Daniels 10  1%
Haley Barbour 6 1%
Ron Paul  5  1%
Undecided  38 5%

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