The big Ames straw poll is not until tomorrow, but another straw poll already has a winner.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul has won the first ever Online Iowa Straw Poll, and won by a wide margin at that. Out of over 6,000 votes cast, Congressman Paul received 44%. The poll has been open for about two weeks.
The second place finisher was Herman Cain with 16% of the vote and Michele Bachmann came in third with 10%. 4th place went to Texas Governor Rick Perry as he garnered 8% of the vote. Of course, Rick Perry is not an official candidate for President yet so he will not appear in the real Ames Straw Poll tomorrow. It is speculated, however, that Perry will announce his candidacy as soon as Saturday.
The other finishers, in order, were Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney (tie), Sarah Palin (also not officially running), "Someone else," Rick Santorum, and John Huntsman and Newt Gingrich (tie). Yes, the "someone else" option beat Santorum, Huntsman and Gingrich.
I congratulate Ron Paul and his campaign on this victory. Regardless of the results, the most important message of this online poll is that Iowans are united in their motivation to bring common sense back to Washington. And it's clear why. Americans are tired of paying for Washington's failed and costly policies. They are ready to fight for leaders who will put people before politics and progress before partisanship to change the way Washington works and the work that Washington does to restore the confidence in the American Dream.
Although the results of the Ames Straw Poll have no official effect on the primaries, many see it as the first big test of the candidates. We'll have to wait until tomorrow to see whether or not Ron Paul can duplicate his online success at the real event.