Could the Donald be falling? Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came out on top in the latest presidential straw poll, garnering 35 percent of the approximately 1,200 votes from the Values Voter Summit in Washington Saturday, NBC News reports.
That’s the third year in a row Cruz has won the support from the forum. The affair comes amid some shakeup for the Republican party in the past week, with House Speaker John Boehner announcing his departure and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has been criticized for not taking stronger conservative stances, ending his bid for the presidency.
Social conservatives are further vocalizing their support. "Today, the insurgency is more emboldened than ever and looks to even further dominate the presidential elections in 2016," Mark Meckler, an attendee at the summit, told the Associated Press. "Our influence is growing."
And Cruz has apparently been seen as their insurgent leader, at least for now. Speaking at the summit Friday, Cruz denounced the Iran nuclear deal with rhetoric that involved introducing “72 virgins” to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, and called President Barack Obama “the world’s most powerful communist,” CNN reports.
While businessman Donald Trump has topped recent polls -- pulling 25 percent of the GOP support in a Quinnipiac University national survey and 24 percent in a CNN poll following the most recent Republican debate on Sept. 16 -- Trump came in fifth place in the summit’s straw poll and received only 56 votes. NBC News reported Trump was booed by attending activists following remarks on Republican contender Marco Rubio. The Florida senator had topped Trump, falling in fourth place with 13 percent of the support.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson took second place with 18 percent of the vote and was followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 14 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, businesswoman Carly Fiorina and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul -- who all declined invitations to speak at the event -- each pulled less than 3 percent of the vote.
Once a front-runner, Bush has been falling in the polls and has evidently lost support from social conservatives. The contender claimed having scheduling conflicts with the event.
“He needs to do well with this voting bloc, especially where he's at now in the polls,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who hosted the summit, told the AP. “He needs all the help he can get.”
But perhaps Trump has not completely lost the faith of the party. “I believe there's a relationship to be built with Trump," Perkins said at a press conference, according to NBC News. "I'm concerned Jeb Bush is sidestepping some events.”