Politics & Government

Cain ekes out win in state GOP's first presidential 'straw poll'

A state Republican Party "straw poll" over the weekend showed no clear frontrunner among Republicans seeking the presidential nomination. The winner was former Godfather's Pizza chief executive Herman Cain, who hauled in 15.1 percent of the vote in a field of 18 choices.

Cain's 54 votes topped those of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, 52, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, 51. Rounding out the top five were New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

State GOP chairman Kirby Wilbur released the results today from the Friday evening vote with this statement:

"The close results demonstrate that the Republican Party does not have a clear frontrunner. Herman Cain has been doing an excellent job getting his name out among Republican voters and his style appeals to many people. As the process moves forward and more individuals enter the race, it will be interesting to see how the perception of the various candidates changes."

In 2008, Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain narrowly led former Arkansas Mike Huckabee during the state Republicans' formal precinct caucuses, followed by Ron Paul and Romney (who had already dropped out). That gives candidates another nine months to distinguish themselves here.

In the meantime, straw polls from around the country are showing different results depending on the audience. Ron Paul won the Conservative PAC's straw poll in February, and Huckabee won a South Carolina poll of Republicans last month.

But as this U.S. News and World Report story points out, the CPAC isn’t predictive.

The Washington vote was during the GOP's yearly gala in Bellevue and only paying guests, who weren't alerted to the vote in advance, were allowed to cast ballots, according to Wilbur. Here are the full Washington GOP results, as copied from the GOP's news release:

Name Vote Total Percentage Herman Cain 54 15.13%Mitt Romney 52 14.57%Mitch Daniels 51 14.29%Chris Christie 39 10.92%Tim Pawlenty 28 7.84%Paul Ryan 22 6.16%Newt Gingrich 14 3.92%Rudy Giuliani 12 3.36%Mike Huckabee 14 3.92%Ron Paul 10 2.80%Donald Trump 10 2.80%Michele Bachmann 9 2.52%Jeb Bush 8 2.24%Sarah Palin 8 2.24%Rick Santorum 7 1.96%Bobby Jindal 6 1.68%Jon Huntsman 4 1.12%Other 9 2.52% 357 100.00%