In two key straw polls conducted yesterday in Florida and Michigan, businessmen Herman Cain and Mitt Romney came away the winners — as Rick Perry, the Texas governor, finished second in both surveys of Republicans.
The polling results are the latest blow for the Perry campaign, which many Republican political observers say has taken a hit with three straight poor debate performances and the pro-life advocate enduring aggressive attacks from his pro-life rivals on other political issues. The Perry campaign, if it wants to return the candidate to his frontrunner status he obtained after jumping the race, will have to work overtime to re-establish the traction it once had.
Cain, the pro-life former Godfather’s Pizza CEO swept the Republican Party of Florida’s “Presidency 5” straw poll today in Orlando, capping off his strongest fundraising and grassroots week since the establishment of his campaign in May 2011. Cain took the straw poll with 37.11 percent of the vote. The field finished as follows:
Herman Cain: 37.11 percent
Governor Rick Perry: 15.43 percent
Governor Mitt Romney: 14 percent
Senator Rick Santorum: 10.88 percent
Congressman Ron Paul: 10.39 percent
Speaker Newt Gingrich: 8.43 percent
Governor Jon Huntsman: 2.26 percent
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann: 1.51 percent
“Thank you to the Republican voters for this incredible honor of being named the winner of the Presidency 5 straw poll in Florida today,” Cain said. “This is a sign of our growing momentum and my candidacy that cannot be ignored. I will continue to share my message of ‘common sense solutions’ across this country and look forward to spending more time in Florida, a critical state for both the nomination and the general election.”
In addition to being named the victor of Thursday night’s FOX News/ Google/ RPOF Republican presidential candidate debate and the straw poll, Cain spent the entire week in Florida, touring the Sunshine State on his nationwide “Common Sense Solutions Bus Tour,” addressing CPAC Florida and speaking at the Presidency 5 festivities.
After the straw poll, Cain appeared on Fox News and said his campaign’s ability to resonate with conservative voters allowed him the opportunity to win: “The takeaway from Florida is that the citizen movement is more powerful than the establishment wants to give it credit for. I am a serious contender because of the people.”
Straw polls results are typically affected by candidates speaking at the event and Cain, Santorum and Gingrich all spoke at the straw poll and each received a great share of the straw poll vote than they are seeing in traditional polls of Republican voters. Bachmann opted out of participating in the straw poll much and Romney opted out completely while Perry sent surrogates to support him. Bachmann, for example, won the Iowa Straw Poll and saw her campaign immediately sag following Perry’s entrance into the race.
Meanwhile, in Michigan, Romney won the Mackinac island straw poll that received somewhat less attention than the Florida poll. The results were as follows: Romney 51%, Perry 17, Cain 9, Paul 8, Bachmann 4, Gingrich 4, Santorum 3, Huntsman 2. Romney, who attended the event, won the same straw poll in 2007, and played up his Michigan ties, received 51 percent of the 681 votes cast reports National Journal.
The straw poll also found the pro-life Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to be the top choice for Republicans for a vice-presidential running mate. Rubio won 23 percent of the votes cast for a vice presidential nominee followed by Cain in second place with 14 percent.
In his speech, Romney, who is running as a pro-life candidate, aggressively took on Obama: “Four years ago, we said that Michigan seemed to be enduring a one-stage recession. President Obama said he’d change that — and he has. Now all the states are in a recession.”
“The world needs a strong America. There’s been no ally for peace like a strong America. And right now we have a president who doesn’t understand how to do that,” he added.
Perry, in comments sent to LifeNews, congratulated Cain on his Florida straw poll victory.
“I want to congratulate Herman Cain on his victory today. Today’s Florida P5 straw poll shows the conservative message of job creation, fiscal responsibility and limited government is gaining momentum. I also want to thank our Florida leadership for their support,” he said. “Floridians and voters nationally want a candidate who is clear on the issues and talks honestly about the future, not someone who takes multiple sides of an issue and changes views every election season. Today’s vote demonstrates that Floridians are energized and ready to help get America working again.”