i did. However, I did not clean the cpu or the heatsink before I applied the thermal paste. Could this be the reason for my lack of conductivity? It seems to me such a minor issue to be responsible for almost 25 degrees of cooling.
Yes! Too much thermal paste acts like an insulator. Clean off the CPU and heatsink with 90% Alcohol and re-apply the thermal paste.
The AS5 method of applying paste uses too much paste. The best method imo, is to put a very small pea sized ammount of TIM on the CPU and then spread it with your finger covered in clingwrap (DO NOT use your un covered finger!). Arctic Silver,et al are trying to sell TIM after all, their method uses too much TIM.