Dr. Ben Carson has caused a major upset by coming in a confident first in the Western Conservative Summit’s straw poll in Denver, Colorado this weekend.
Carson, who boomed about his anti-political credentials in his main stage speech last night, took 26 percent of the 871 votes cast, while Carly Fiorina, who also had clear support amongst conference delegates, took 23 percent.
But the biggest blow of the weekend was for Rick Santorum, who landed on just two percent of the vote despite some noteworthy support from the audience during his speech.
The results may reflect the resources that each campaign poured into the straw poll at the conference. There was clearly a more organised Carson and Fiorina presence than there were for any of the other candidates, which is reflected in the lower numbers for the Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, and Mike Huckabee camps.
Ted Cruz finished fourth in the poll without even attending the summit. Instead, his father Rafael Cruz took to the stage on Friday night to push for more support for his son. Cruz spoke of Ted’s debating skills, as well as the repeated line about him being a “constitutional conservative” — a major issue following the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision.
Scott Walker, who spoke last night and finished third, was perhaps affected by the heckles he received over immigration. The Governor scarcely mentioned the topic in his speech to the 2,000+ crowd, and was met with animosity as a result. He was the only candidate to be heckled.
George Pataki, who was originally due to attend the conference but had to pull out due to illness, was the only candidate to receive zero per cent of the vote. Even Mitt Romney and Lindsay Graham attracted three votes each, putting them level with Chris Christie.
The conference drew to a close today. The full results of the straw poll follow: