Immediately after Tony Perkins announced the result of the FRC Action straw poll, in which Mitt Romney edged Mike Huckabee by 30 votes out of 5,775 cast, Huckabee boosters cried foul – and reporters peppered Perkins with questions about the legitimacy of the poll.
Turns out that Huckabee won a majority of the votes cast in person at the Values Voter Summit, 51 percent, and Romney only took 10 percent. Some unknown number of votes were cast online by people who also attended. But other votes were cast anytime online between August and Saturday. That’s how Ron Paul showed up in third place with 865 votes even though he was picked by only 25 in-person voters.
Huckabee’s clear victory in the in-person vote wasn’t much of a surprise if you experienced the rapturous reception Huckabee received on Saturday morning. Huckabee’s speech was non-stop Religious Right prime red meat and he had people cheering and hollering throughout.
Perkins wouldn’t tell reporters who he had voted for. But it’s interesting that both Perkins and Romney talked this weekend about the three groups of conservatives a Republican candidate would have to win over to get to the White House: defense, economic, and social conservatives.
It’s not clear that Huckabee fits that bill. While he was clearly the favorite of the social conservatives at the Values Voter Summit, he has been savaged by the economic right wing, including the rabidly anti-tax Club for Growth, for his supposedly big-spending record as a governor.
Unlike any of the other top-tier candidates, Huckabee had attended the Values Voter Debate in Florida a few weeks back. That event was sponsored by several of the Religious Right’s lesser lights. One of them, Janet Folger, declared after Huckabee won that event’s straw poll that God had anointed him to lead religious conservatives into the White House. At this summit, Folger was on fire after the former Arkansas governor’s Saturday morning speech, telling a reporter in the hallway that God’s hand was on Huckabee and that he was going to be the next president.
God vs. Club for Growth? Stay tuned.