Texas Rep. Ron Paul grabbed another straw poll victory Saturday at the Values Voter Summit, winning by a healthy margin ahead of runner-up Herman Cain and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. However, the National Journal now reports that an organizer for the annual Washington gathering of social conservatives has suggested that ballot-stuffing may have "skewed the results:"
"In a press conference following the announcement of the straw poll results at the annual Washington gathering of social conservatives, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins all but dismissed the results as irrelevant, citing 600 people who registered Saturday morning and, he said, 'left after Ron Paul spoke.'
A total of 1,983 ballots were cast. 'You do the math,' Perkins said."
Paul's victory at the summit came as a surprise considering his hardline libertarian views have at times been at odds with the views of social conservatives in regards to drug laws and gay marriage. Furthermore, Paul came in second-to-last at the very same contest only one year ago.
Critics have taken Paul's string of straw-poll victories with a grain of salt, arguing that Paul packs the electorate at these events with diehard supporters:
"Perkins said his organization did 'everything to preserve the integrity of this straw poll,' including denying campaigns from buying blocks of tickets, 'which they attempted to do this year.' But Santorum on Friday seemed dubious, and told National Journal that his success in the polls would depend 'on how many people, how many campaigns, tried to buy a bunch of tickets and try to stack the poll, which unfortunately happens.'”
Only those who registered and paid to attend the conference were allowed to vote. The New York Times reports that the fee was $99 for the entire three-day meeting, or $75 for a single day, and $50 for students.
While critics may suggest ballot-stuffing, Paul's speech before the straw poll results were announced argued that his staunch fiscal conservatism, opposition to war and defense of liberty, were in tune with family values and the Bible.