Ames, Iowa (CNN) - Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann won a narrow victory at the Ames Straw Poll, outpacing Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in a vote that cements Bachmann’s status as the Iowa frontrunner and is all but certain to force Pawlenty to reassess his candidacy.
Iowa GOP officials said nearly 17,000 ballots were cast in the straw poll, a closely scrutinized test of each campaign’s organizational muscle in Iowa.
Bachmann won 4,823 votes narrowly edging Paul’s total of 4,671.
Pawlenty finished a distant third with 2,293, while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum netted 1,657 votes.
They were followed in order by businessman Herman Cain (1,456 votes), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (567 votes), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (385), former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (69) and Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (35).
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who announced his campaign on Saturday but did not compete in the straw poll, collected 718 write-in votes.