Some notes on the ongoing straw poll at the Values Voters Summit:
Tomorrow afternoon the results will be announced, and there are accusations that the whole thing is being manipulated by the Romney campaign. Family Research Center insiders say they assume the campaigns, including Romney’s, are trying to get the best result, and they don’t rule out the possibility that the final total will reflect that.
The big problem is that people are allowed to vote online, and it seems obvious that that total will reflect whoever got more people to go online. But people are also voting in person here at the Washington Hilton, and I’m told there’s pretty good ballot security for them. To vote, you have to register for the conference, at $95. Then you have to present that registration at the polling booth before you can vote. (You also have to make a $1 donation to FRC Action, the political action committee.)
I’m told that 2,200 people pre-registered for the conference and that there have been about 400 walk-up registrations today. FRC expects more tomorrow, but that’s still a pretty manageable number. And while some of the campaigns might have brought some people in – “We’ve looked for a pattern but haven’t found one,” one FRC insider told me — it seems likely that we’ll see far less skewed results at the conference site. So the interesting thing to do would be for FRC to separate the on-site voting totals from the online voting totals, and announce both.
By the way, the Giuliani forces assure me they’re not participating in the straw poll here, just as they didn’t participate in the Ames, Iowa straw poll or others around the country. I’m not sure what participation would involve – certainly Giuliani isn’t making any effort to organize people to vote for him – but he will undoubtedly get some votes. Not a lot, but some.