In a press conference following the announcement of the straw poll results at the annual Washington gathering of social conservatives, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins all but dismissed the results as irrelevant, citing 600 people who registered Saturday morning and, he said, "left after Ron Paul spoke."
A total of 1,983 ballots were cast. "You do the math," Perkins said.
A year ago in the same contest, Paul came in second-to-last. Speaking briefly with reporters before the straw poll results were announced, the Republican lawmaker said, "If I win, it wouldn't be as important to the media than if I lose."
Paul has a history of scoring unlooked-for straw poll wins by packing the electorate with diehard supporters. But Perkins said it's too early to take much away from Paul's win. "Let me just take you back four years to this event, when we had a straw poll. Mitt Romney won that straw poll," he said. "I think people are still in the process of deciding where they want to go."
Paul got 37 percent of the vote. The rest of the ballots showed how widely social conservatives support is splintered among the rest of the field.