Republican presidential contenders Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback downplayed their losses in the Iowa Straw Poll this past weekend, both expressing hope for a stronger show in the future.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the poll with 4,516 votes, or 31.5 percent, but Huckabee said he was not too disappointed that he came in second with 2,587 votes or 18.1 of the voters.
"It wasn't just that we surprised people with a second showing, it's that we did it with so few resources," said Huckabee on Sunday, according to The Associated Press. "This really was feeding the 5,000 with two fish and five loaves.".
The former Arkansas governor, who is also an ordained Baptist minister, said while Romney spent millions and months of effort on the event, Huckabee's campaign had little money and spent less than $100,000 on the straw poll.
Meanwhile, Brownback came in third with 2,192 votes or 15.3 percent. The Kansas senator said his third-place finish gave him "a ticket on board to the caucuses," according to AP.
Although still relatively unknown to the majority of Americans, Republican presidential contenders Huckabee and Brownback have increasingly emerged as favorites among evangelicals. Both candidates share the same conservative values as many evangelicals – both are pro-life and against same-sex "marriage."
Most American evangelicals, however, have not cemented their allegiance to a particular candidate yet, noting that the election is still more than a year away.
In addition, some evangelicals are considering lending support to Romney, who also shares many of their conservative Christian values. Many, however, have found it difficult to overlook the former Massachusetts governor's affiliation with Mormonism.
The Iowa Straw Poll had low voter turnout; some 23,600 people voted in the straw poll eight years ago, but only about 14,300 participated on Saturday, according to AP.
Moreover, some of the top Republican candidates such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) decided to skip the event.
"It is a win," said David Yepsen, political columnist with The Des Moines Register, according to CNN.
"But it is somewhat shallow, because his big opponents didn't show up. What does it mean to get in the ring and your opponents don't even show up," added Yepsen.
The Iowa Straw Poll has no official effect on the presidential primaries but rather it is a test of a presidential contender's organizational strength in Iowa. A straw poll win can be very beneficial to a candidate by propelling them more into the spotlight and adding momentum to their campaign.
The Iowa Democratic Party does not have a similar event.