WASHINGTON – Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took first place in the presidential straw poll at the social conservative Values Voter Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council (FRC), while neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson took the top vice presidential spot, and religious freedom was considered the most important political issue.
"Values voters are looking for those who will refuse to be bound by the 'can't mentality' of the establishment and will challenge the status quo," said Tony Perkins, FRC president. "In short, values voters, many of whom did not fully engage in the last election, are looking for a leader that will inspire them by challenging President Obama and speak clearly and directly to the challenges facing America."
Cruz, whose speech on Friday was interrupted by approximately two dozen hecklers, won with 42 percent of the vote, while Dr. Ben Carson and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) nearly tied for second place with 13 percent (Carson beat Santorum by one vote). Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), considered a front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential primary, came in fourth with 6 percent, while Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) received 5 percent. Of the over 2,200 people registered for the conference, 762 attendees voted.
Dr. Ben Carson, who compared President Obama's healthcare reform law to slavery in his speech on Friday, won the vice presidential straw poll with 21 percent, with Cruz following at 17 percent. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) took third place with 9 percent.
On the question of the most important issue for Values Voters, responders ranked "Religious Freedom" as number one. Perkins called it an "umbrella issue for other issues such as marriage, parental rights, and 'Obamacare.'" The pro-life cause ranked number two, followed closely by opposition to Obama's health care law.
When asked by The Christian Post to respond to the accusation that social conservatism is a dying movement, Perkins answered that "that is a strange reaction considering the Values Voter Summit turnouts in recent years." He said he was "shocked" by the enthusiasm this year, despite the fact that Obama was re-elected.