Michigan native Mitt Romney won the presidential straw poll at the Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island, the poll’s organizers announced Sunday.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is seen as the national frontrunner and made his Michigan debut in a luncheon speech to the conference Saturday, finished second, followed by pizza mogul Herman Cain, who surprised many by winning a straw poll in Florida Saturday.
Romney’s victory was no surprise, despite the fact Romney has said he is not participating in straw polls during the 2012 presidential campaign. Romney spoke at the conference Saturday evening.
“Gov. Romney is very well known here,” said Reid Wilson, editor in chief of the National Journal’s The Hotline, which organized and sponsored the straw poll along with the National Association of Home Builders. “It doesn’t surprise me that he did so well.”
Romney got 51 percent of the 681 ballots cast, followed by Perry with 17 percent.
Close to 2,000 people registered for the three-day conference and were eligible to vote, according to GOP officials and Wilson.
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak said he doesn’t believe Romney’s dominance in Michigan will keep other presidential candidates from contesting the state. Perry told him Saturday he plans to campaign hard in Michigan, Schostak said. A Nov. 9 debate in Michigan will also attract the candidates, he said.
Rounding out the ballot were Rep. Ron Paul of Texas with 8 percent; Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota with 4 percent; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia with 4 percent; former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania with 3 percent; and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman with 2 percent.
U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Livonia, who announced Thursday he was pulling out of the presidential race, finished last of those named on the ballot, with five votes.
The poll also found that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was easily the activists’ favorite to be their party’s vice presidential nominee. Rubio received 23 percent of the 481 votes cast for vice president. Cain finished second with 14 percent followed by Gingrich at 13 percent and Bachmann at 12 percen
Voting was Friday and Saturday.
Schostak and other political observers were surprised by Cain’s strong performance in Florida’s straw poll Saturday.
“Perhaps that will bring him up to Michigan to see how he can do up here,” Schostak said.