The Southern Republican Leadership Conference Straw Poll doesn't carry a whole lot of weight, since it's skewed — like most of these things — by the makeup of the crowd, the intensity of Ron Paul's supporters and the ease of gaming the vote.
That doesn't mean, however, that the various camps aren't trying to game it. One of the organizers told me that two groups, Paul's Campaign for Liberty and Evangelicals for Mitt (which denies ties to Romney) have purchased blocks of tickets to the event, typically given to supporters.
I spoke to a young female delegate who said she planned to vote for Romney in the poll. I asked her how she had ended up at the conference.
She said Evangelicals for Mitt had contacted her and offered to pay for her to have a limited-access ticket — as long as she agreed to vote for Romney in the straw poll.
Asked how Evangelicals for Mitt got her name, she said she didn't know. But she said that she was on the e-mail list for Romney and speculated that the Romney team had given out their e-mail list.
I've e-mailed a Romney spokesman to ask if they shared the list.
UPDATE: Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom says Romney's PAC hasn't shared its list, and that he's not aware of any other list.
And a Paul supporter gets hold of the full e-mail from Evangelicals for Mitt's Nancy French, which requires ticket recipients to promise to vote for Romney:
Evangelicals for Mitt is trying to get people there who would vote for Gov. Romney in a straw poll. It is customary for potential Presidential candidates to make an effort to get friendly people at the conference to help their showing in the straw polls, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.