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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Wheels Within Wheels at Value Voters Summit

There were three main story-lines that came out of this weekend’s Value Voters Summit, an annual gathering of cultural conservative (and mainly conservative evangelical) folk sponsored by the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation and the American Family Association that has also become an obligatory stop for Republican presidential candidates.
The first, and perhaps least interesting, is that Ron Paul’s supporters again packed the room and won a straw poll. Paul is by all accounts running a more formidable campaign than he did in 2008, but these straw poll showings have little or nothing to do with it (notably, in the two major straw polls this year where Paulites couldn’t just show up at the last minute and dominate the balloting, the Ames Iowa GOP event in August and the Florida “P5” event in September, Paul did not win).
The second story-line is that a prominent Texas preacher known for his anti-Mormon sentiments introduced Rick Perry and then gleefully gave interviews repeating his belief that the LDS faith is a “cult,” getting Mitt’s religion back into the immediate consciousness of the conservative evangelical voters and opinion-leaders most likely to pay attention to the event, while also probably scandalizing Republican elites who don’t like religion-talk generally.
The third story-line is that Herman Cain again gave a rapturously received speech, another version of the same speech he’s been giving for months.
It’s debatable at this point whether the second (the nasty Romney-Perry rivalry) or the third (the Cain surge) story matters most. But the underlying story is that three candidates who had an early advantage in Christian Right support–Gingrich, Bachmann, and Santorum–have become semi-invisible, while a fourth–Tim Pawlenty–has withdrawn altogether.

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