Texas Congressman Ron Paul has been declared the winner of the 2011 Values Voter Summit Straw Poll, garnering 37 percent of the vote.
Herman Cain finished in second place with 23 percent, while Rick Santorum took third at 16 percent.
Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann finished in a dead-even tie for fourth at eight percent. The rest of the field saw Mitt Romney net four percent, Newt Gingrich at three percent and Jon Huntsman in dead last with zero percent.
After the vote, Slate's David Weigel spoke with Family Research President Council president Tony Perkins, who credited a key strength of Paul's presidential run:
"Do the math," said Perkins. "Ron Paul and his campaign are very well organized."
Paul's campaign could prove to be a major 2012 GOP spoiler. The AP noted on Monday how Paul's libertarian lean has energized some conservatives. But when asked about the term 'spoiler', Paul had this to say:
"I have no idea what exactly spoiler means," Paul said recently while in New Hampshire. "If you're a participant and you have an influence and you win or come close and you influence the debate, I think that's pretty important. So I don't put a negative term on that as spoiling anything. Spoiling their fun? Maybe they need a little spoiling."
His support also showed during his speech itself. The Atlantic's Molly Ball captured how well Paul's rhetoric was received, describing his turn at the microphone as 'rambling, didactic, full of obscure references -- and rapturously received by his fans', backed by segments such as this one.
"As long as we allow the federal government to grow...things will get worse," he said. "But the good news is, a whole generation of Americans are rising up and saying, 'We were on track at one time. Let's get back on track.' Let's restore our liberty, prosperity and peace!"
MSNBC's First Read adds that another segment of this particular straw poll revealed voters' preferences for the GOP vice-presidential nominee. Bachmann finished in the top slot in that area, followed by Cain, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Santorum.
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