By one half of one percent, by 30 votes, ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney won the Family Research Council's straw poll, besting Fred Thompson, whose surrogates attacked Romney with pamphlets, by more than 1,000 votes.

But Huckabee won the majority of votes from activists who attended the FRC's Washington, D.C. briefing this weekend and voted onsite -- 488, or 51%. Note: since 2500 members registered to attend, some of those who saw the candidates in person may have elected to vote online.

About 80 percent of ballots were cast by FRC members online, and Romney's narrow victory comes from those votes.

Huckabee has made a habit of performing well at straw polls like these; there did seem to be a fair number of FairTax supporters, and they may have helped. But Huckabee;'s victory -- without much organizing -- suggests that his powers of persuasion are mighty and that the social conservative activists have come to know who he is and what he's about.

Romney's victory is the latest in a string of positive developments for his campaign's ever-so-careful outreach to evangelicals. He was endorsed by three major evangelical figures this week, two of them hailing from South Carolina. If these indications are a leading edge, his support among evangelicals in South Carolina and Iowa and maybe elsewhere may shoot up.

Ron Paul came in third with 15% of the vote, followed by Thompson with 9.77% of the vote. Rudy Giuliani finished slightly ahead of John McCain, who just can't catch a break with these conservatives. Giuliani received 107 out of the nearly 6,000 votes cast.

conniemack.jpg