Texas Congressman Ron Paul won the straw poll held at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans today. Some 2,000 activists from across the country met and heard from a number of GOP presidential contenders. Today′s straw poll may not mean much as the primary season heats up, but it is note worthy. Ron Paul finished with 612 votes. Former Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman Jr. finished second with 382 votes. Michele Bachmann was third with 191 votes and businessman Herman Cain took fourth place with 104 votes. The rest of the Republican field of presidential candidates finished with less than 100 votes, including alleged front-runner Mitt Romney, who finished fifth with only 74 votes, edging out Newt Gingrich with 69 votes. Sarah Palin, who is not even running got 41 votes, more than Rick Santorum with 30 votes Tim Pawlenty with just 18 votes. Only Gary Johnson did worse, ending in last place with a mere 10 votes.

ron paul wins straw poll

That Ron Paul won the straw poll is nothing new. He generally does well at these since he has a very devoted following of activists nationwide. Paul, along with Bachmann and Cain, actually attended the conference and spoke on Friday. Texas Gov. Rick Perry will deliver the keynote speech later today. Many speculate that he may jump in the race later this summer.

Perhaps the biggest surprise with today′s straw poll is not that Ron Paul won, but that both Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman finished ahead of Mitt Romney. Even Herman Cain did better than Romney, Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin, who is not a candidate. Jon Huntsman is expected to make his 2012 presidential campaign official this coming week. The former ambassador to China and Utah governor is seen by some as a more palatable centrist than Mitt Romney. Huntsman was scheduled to appear at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans this weekend, but canceled due to a cold. Instead, his wife and one daughter attended.