The results for the FRC straw poll are in, and it's a squeaker: Mitt Romney wins with 28.6 percent, Mike Huckabee trails with 28.1 percent (a difference of 30 votes). Ron Paul scored 15.5 percent. But those numbers include the online votes that anyone could cast by logging onto the FRC site and paying a buck. Among voters who showed up for the speeches, Huckabee won 51 percent–a 41 point landslide over Romney.
That's a fairly meaningless straw poll result, though. Here's what I learned from FRC insiders…
– Every candidate was invited, including Democratic candidates, but there was some hope that Rudy would turn down the invitation. "He showed up. That was a savvy decision."
– It was debated pretty hotly yesterday, but the consensus has firmed up. Fred Thompson bombed. "He looks like a president when he's walking on the stage, and then he starts talking and he doesn't look so much like a president."
– John McCain had a chance and sort of blew it. "Rudy's not an option. Fred's not impressing so far. Huckabee doesn't have the resources. Romney hasn't really convinced people to trust him. So people were ready to, you know, dust off McCain, clean him up, if he came here with a great speech. He didn't do that."
When I left the conference the straw poll results were about an hour away, and those results would come into play when Dobson bloc meets on Sunday. If Huckabee did well, the bloc might come out and support him; if no one broke out, the bloc might tell its members to make their own decisions. (Sort of like SEIU.) A "hell with 'em all" third party decision seems unlikely.