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Herman Cain scores surprise victory in Florida straw poll

by Adam Russett on September 26, 2011

Although he has been hailed a front runner since jumping in the Republican presidential race several weeks ago, Texas governor Rick Perry suffered a startling defeat over the weekend. Businessman Herman Cain won a straw poll of Florida GOP activists on Saturday, a results which some say could signal the beginning of the end for Perry, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Cain easily took the win with 37 percent of the vote, with Perry in second at 15 percent. However, Perry invested a lot of effort in campaigning in Florida, significantly more than his main rival Mitt Romney, who did not actively compete in the poll, yet still managed to get 14 percent of the vote.

While some Perry supporters have suggested that Romney urged his followers to vote for Cain, much of the reason for the Texas governor's poor showing can be tied to his underwhelming performance in last week's debate. To some, the event did not sit will with conservatives who balked at Perry's support of providing tuition help to children of illegal immigrants.

“It was a total turnoff,” Republican Johanna White told Bloomberg about his stance on immigration. “I think it’s totally wrong. I’m almost 100 percent directly a Perry supporter, but I can’t agree with that.”

The result is not to say that Perry's chances to earn the nomination are over. Cain likely won because he sunk a lot of time and effort into campaigning in Florida, spending three days in the Orlando area before the vote and also hosting numerous delegates on Friday night.

"I know Cain isn't going to be nominated," delegate Jeff Lukens told the Los Angeles Times. "This was an opportunity to vote how you really feel."

The next Republican debate is scheduled for October 11 at Dartmouth College.

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