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The significance of a straw poll in planning a political campaign September 21, 2009

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Some 2,000 social conservatives met recently at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. to discuss the future of the Republican Party and to participate in the first major straw poll for the 2012 presidential election. While former Miss California Carrie Prejean served as a featured speaker along with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, conservative favorites Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich were missing.

It was former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee who won the poll with 28 percent of the 597 votes cast by attendees. The voters overwhelmingly regarded abortion as the most important issue determining their vote, with the protection of religious liberty coming in second.

To see the announcement of Huckabee as the winner of the poll, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why is the Values Voters straw poll, despite being three years before the next election, so significant?

2.  How might such a poll have an impact on potential candidates who receive little support from Values Voters participants? In other words, how might this poll change the rhetoric of potential candidates?

3.  Does this straw poll indicate who really has a serious chance with republicans in the next election? What is the major limitation of the straw poll in predicting electoral success?

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