Cain Wins Florida Straw Poll

Every winner of Florida’s Presidency 5 straw poll has gone on to win the GOP nomination.

And if that tradition continues this year, Herman Cain will be the Republican nominee in 2012.

He overwhelmingly won the straw poll, nabbing 37 percent of the votes. That put Cain more than twenty percentage points ahead of Rick Perry (15 percent) and Mitt Romney (14 percent). Rick Santorum won 11 percent of the votes, while Ron Paul came in fifth at 10 percent. Newt Gingrich was backed by 8 percent. And Michele Bachmann, who won the Ames Straw Poll, finished dead last at 1.5 percent. Jon Huntsman beat her to come in seventh place with 2.3 percent of the vote.

For Perry, whose campaign very aggressively courted delegates — his campaign hosted a breakfast, sent out direct mail, telephoned delegates, and appointed a leadership commission lead by Florida House speaker Dean Cannon — the distant second-place finish has the potential to curtail the momentum he’s had as frontrunner since entering the race. Many of the straw poll delegates expressed frustration at his poor debate performance Thursday night, along with irritation at his immigration positions. 

And while Perry spoke this morning, not all the delegates were present at the breakfast and his speech failed to ignite the room. Cain, on the other hand, delivered a speech that was heard by most of the delegates — and was very well-received. By my count, there were at least seven standing ovations during his speech.

The conventional wisdom is that Cain had his moment. But he may just be on his way to surging back up in the polls.

UPDATE: Rick Perry sends out a statement about the results:

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.

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.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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