RotLC attended the Roanoke Conference
By Bryan Myrick 1/31/11
OCEAN SHORES, Wash. -- The field that will eventually compete for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2012 has yet to officially reveal itself, a mystery that polling attempts to solve. Though former governors Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney lead the pack in the most recent nationwide surveys, it was Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels who came out on top of a straw poll taken at the Roanoke Conference in Ocean Shores, Wash. on Sunday.
Daniels has barely registered in national polls, overshadowed by a dominant trio of familiar faces from the 2008 GOP primary, former governors Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee. Nonetheless, a conference attended by more than 300 Republican activists in Washington State chose Daniels ahead of all others by a wide margin, and virtually ignored two of the current frontrunners in the polls.
Daniels pulled 31 percent of votes cast, more than twice the count of the next highest vote-getter, Romney, who won 14 percent. Completing the top five were former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (13 percent), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (9 percent), and South Dakota Sen. John Thune (8 percent).
The poll was conducted in a caucus format in which candidates were announced and individuals were allowed to make short endorsement speeches from the floor. Small groups discussed the pros and cons of specific individuals after which discussion votes were cast and counted.
Because Secretary of State Sam Reed (R) and Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) have proposed eliminating the Washington’s presidential primary, the Roanoke Conference Straw Poll could be a valuable data point for Republican campaigns seeking to win Washington’s delegates to the national nominating convention next August in Tampa Bay, Florida, should the state move to an all-caucus process.
Notable absentees from the Top 5 were Huckabee and Palin. Though Palin and Huckabee showed up well in recent Rasmussen and NBC/Wall Street Journal polls, among the mainstream Republicans attending the Roanoke Conference the pair drew only 3 and 2 percent support, respectively.
For Huckabee in particular, the showing could be an early sign of weak support in the Evergreen State of another run for the White House. In 2008, Huckabee received 24 percent of votes cast in the presidential primary and 23 percent in voting in caucuses.
The Roanoke Conference Straw Poll for the Republican presidential primary election was the second in the nation after New Hampshire’s conducted last Saturday. Romney won that poll with 35 percent of the vote, while Daniels received 3 percent.
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