Texas Congressman Ron Paul ran away with 40 percent of the vote at the Republican Leadership Conference's straw poll vote in New Orleans Saturday, after losing by just one vote to Mitt Romney at last year's conference.
From the audience's reaction, you might not have guessed how easily Paul won. Much of the crowd booed as poll results were announced. A small number of cheers could be heard from the Texas congressman's supporters, but noticeably absent was his massive following who filled the conference center on Friday with their Ron Paul signs, chants, and cheers.
Despite a last-minute cancellation of his scheduled speech, citing a bad cold, Jon Huntsman finished second in the polls with 25 percent of the vote - ahead of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (13 percent), businessman Herman Cain (7 percent), and the winner of last year's poll, and current Republican front-runner, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (5 percent), who did not attend the conference.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's struggles continued as he received just 5 percent of the vote. Former Alaska governor and FOX News contributor Sarah Palin, who did not attend and is still undecided about entering the race, finished with 3 percent. She was trailed by former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, and Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who reportedly is seriously considering a presidential run, brought a lot of energy to the crowd Saturday afternoon. Waving his arms, pointing his fingers, and drawing several standing ovations, the animated Perry criticized the Obama administration, praised conservative principles, and called for voters in 2012 "to be ready to elect Republican leaders up and down that ballot."
"Our party cannot be all things to all people, it can't be. Our loudest opponents on the left are never going to be happy, so let's stop trying to curry favor for them," Perry said.
During his speech, and at a book signing earlier in the day, several chants broke out of "Run Rick, run." Perry was not included in the straw poll.