Friday, September 30, 2011

Florida picks Cain in closely watched straw poll

Herman Cain addressing the Florida delegation before his double digit victory in Orlando.
The Final event of “Presidency 5” in Orlando was the Republican straw poll for the 2012 election in Florida. Over 2,600 party delegates gathered to cast their vote for a Republican presidential candidate, which resulted in a surprisingly strong 37.1% win for businessman Herman Cain from Atlanta, Georgia.

“I find Herman Cain to be the most sincere, he isn’t a career politician but a true citizen candidate,” said Tom Trombly a volunteer for the Cain campaign and Valencia College alumni.

Delegates for the straw poll were divided among most of Florida’s county’s based on their number of registered Republicans. Many candidates held meet and greet events before this straw poll but only three,  Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain, stayed through Saturday to personally address the delegation before the vote.

Santorum and Gingrich both received a fair amount of attention during and after their addresses, but it was clear before the vote that Herman Cain made a strong connection with most of the delegates that loudly cheered for Cain and displayed signs and buttons showing their support.

Some candidates not in attendance sent speakers on their behalf and video presentations like the high budget and sharply produced new campaign ad from Rick Perry. 

Michelle Bachmann who finished first in the Iowa straw poll six weeks ago opted out of this straw poll and received last place with only 1.5% of the vote. 

Former Governer, Mitt Romney, didn’t participate on the day of the straw poll, and received a third place finish with 14% of the votes cast.

The largest surprise of the poll result was the strong 37.1% first place finish for Atlanta businessman Herman Cain over the assumed front runner Rick Perry, who received less then half of Cain's total, with only 15.4%.

“I was going to vote for Perry but was really impressed with Cain’s demeanor and his story of surviving colon cancer” said Joseph Simmons, delegate voter, after the poll on Saturday. 

Cain received a standing ovation at previous debate on Thursday after speaking about having a 30% chance of surviving stage four cancer; and he pointed out that if he was on the Obama health care plan he would have died, because of having to wait for tests and procedures through a socialized medical insurance plan.

In a state with a high number of elderly residents, the idea of not receiving the proper care or even dying through inferior or mismanaged government programs, could very-well have been the pinnacle moment that connected Herman Cain to the majority of delegate voters.

The final results were presented by Florida Governor Rick Scott, who further addressed the cheering crowd, after the announcement of Cain's victory. “The road to the White House runs right through Florida, and it pays to be here,” said Scott.

Herman Cain fully participated throughout most of the week and many in attendance at the straw poll remarked that he was more of a down to earth, shake your hand, and look you in the eye candidate compared to the others in the race.

“If it hadn’t been for the support that we have garnered all over the state of Florida and all over the country, this couldn’t have happened,” said Cain, through a video response from his campaign tour bus after the results were announced.

By James Tutten

(All photos by James Tutten)

Delegates speak before the Florida straw poll vote on Sept. 24, in Orlando.

Emotions tend to run high with heated debates in this political atmosphere.


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