Cruz clinches straw poll gold again
© Greg Nash

Texas Republican Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzCruz offers bill to weaken labor board's power Overnight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE won the Value Voters Summit presidential straw poll on Saturday.

The crowd burst onto applause on Saturday, as Family Research Council President Tony Perkins announced that Cruz won 25 percent of votes at the annual Washington conference. 

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The victory is a big victory to the Republican firebrand and Tea Party icon, coming just a day after he drew standing ovations with a religious and emotional speech that blasted ObamaCare, congressional Democrats and called for Republicans to take over the White House in 2016. 

Cruz also won the straw poll in 2013. 

Coming in second was neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a political novice who has a large following in conservative circles but said earlier this week that there is a “strong” likelihood that he would run for president. He won 20 percent of the votes.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) came in third, with 12 percent of the vote.

As a signal of Carson’s popularity at the summit, the former Johns Hopkins University neurosurgeon came in first in the polling for vice president, winning 22 percent of the votes.

Cruz was the runner up in that contest, with 14 percent. Third was Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) — who earned surprising admiration in his Friday evening address, despite his low showing in recent polls of potential 2016 contenders — with 11 percent of the vote.

The annual Washington summit is considered a right of passage for prospective Republican presidential candidates, and served as an opportunity for aspirants to make some of their most direct pitches to social conservatives before announcing their ambitions next year. 

The notable absence from the winners' list of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — another senator who is considered to be strongly eyeing a presidential run — is a sign of pervasive skepticism from the religious right.

Paul’s libertarian leanings have won him supporters among the young and tech-savvy, but he has yet to make inroads among Christian conservatives. The poor showing comes despite his attempts on Friday to appeal to the summit’s religious leanings. 

The summit also asks participants which issues they care about most deeply.

“Protecting religious liberty” easily won that contest with 39 percent of the vote, followed by abortion and “protecting natural marriage.”

This post was updated at 3:30 p.m.