Huntsman surprises in big GOP straw poll
June 18th, 2011
03:40 PM ET
10 years ago

Huntsman surprises in big GOP straw poll

New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) - Jon Huntsman was a no-show at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, but the former Utah governor raised eyebrows with a surprising second place in the conference’s 2012 presidential straw poll Saturday.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who delivered a fiery and well-attended speech here in Friday, continued his record of strong straw poll performances and won the vote outright with 612 votes. Huntsman came next with 382 votes.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, coming off an impressive debate performance on Monday in New Hampshire, finished in third place with 191 votes.

They were followed by pizza magnate Herman Cain (104 votes), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (74 votes), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (69 votes) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (41 votes).

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum finished in eighth place with 30 votes. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who did not speak at the conference, finished in a dismal ninth place with 18 votes.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson came in last with just 10 votes.

It was Huntsman’s surprising runner-up finish, though, that grabbed the most attention on Saturday when the results of the two-day vote were announced.

When he was booked as one of the speakers at the semi-annual event, there were questions about how Huntsman - who has broken with GOP orthodoxy on issues like climate change and same-sex civil unions - would be received among the conservative activists who typically attend such gatherings.

Huntsman, though, came down with a last minute cold this week and decided to skip the event. He dispatched his wife, Mary Kaye, to greet conference-goers in his stead.

And his strong finish in the straw poll might have gotten a boost from some behind-the-scenes work by his political team. Several of his political advisers, including John Weaver, Chris Allen, John Yob and Jake Suski, made the trip to New Orleans and were seen huddling with delegates at the riverfront hotel where the conference was held.

Miller attributed the win to the former ambassador to China’s economic message. He did not comment when asked if Huntsman advisers paid for their supporters to get to the ballot box.

“His willingness to take the debt crisis seriously and his foreign policy message really resonated with the younger conservatives who attended,” Miller said.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. George Washington

    Constitutionally, legislatively, and morally, Ron Paul has no equal. His 22 year voting record speaks for itself.
    Mr. Paul has not survived in politics for 22 years and maintain the ethics and morality he has by being anything other than stellar.
    If You refute the above comment, then I please invite You to listen to him speak about key issues. It is amazing how well he comes across because he doesn’t have to remember lies like other politicians. He understands what is happening in the world and knows how to apply the basic principles of liberty to achieve the real change that America so desperately deserves.
    American to American we are all on the same team. So I present Mr. Ron Paul as my Candidate for 2011 and invite anybody to meaningfully and respectfully debate why he is not the best for American and its people in 2012.
    Ron Paul = A real change, not for special interest, but for America’s Interests!
    Thank You for Your time
    Ron Paul 2012

    June 18, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    Totally remove Gingrich, Palin, and Cain, and I can see the results.

    Otherwise, just a bunch of radical nutjobs.

    June 18, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    Oh, and Santorum is certifiably nuts - leave him out also.

    June 18, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. AJB

    That's my man!

    June 18, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. Alan

    Thank you for telling the truth this time.

    June 18, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    Huntsman must be smart, or President Obama would not have put him in the position he did. BOTH are highly intelligen. Huntsman's father did, however, buy his son's way in this life - not all of it was earned from scratch. Proof needed. If he turns out to be radical, kiss him goodbye. The average American is not buying the radical crap any more.

    June 18, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. Jonathan

    ROFL...Give the headline to the second place guy in a straw poll? Come on really?

    June 18, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. David K.

    Ron Paul wins but Huntsman is the headline? Hooray for another establishment candidate!

    June 18, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. scout

    Ron Paul is converting democrats over to the Republican party just to vote for the only man that loves this country and has the record to prove it. Ron Paul 2012

    June 18, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. Al

    I knew Paul was going to win BUT will we win the Iowa Caucus and can he win New Hamsphere? Will his followers show up in the polls?

    June 18, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. vic , nashville ,tn

    Michele Bachmann beat Mitt Romney that is good news

    June 18, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. Bartholomew

    In my opinion, we are confronted here with something of a situation. Otherwise, I would not have presumed to take up your time.

    Once again, it concerns the case of Ron Paul. We know we don't want anything extraordinary to happen to Ron Paul. We've already agreed on that. No accidents, nothing unnatural.

    The elections and straw polls were created to demonstrate the futility of individual effort. And, the elections and straw polls must do their work. The media and military-industrial complex have done all they can, and if a champion defeats the meaning for which the election was designed, then Ron Paul must lose.

    I hope you agree with my reasoning.

    June 18, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  13. chmst1999

    You can't be serious. I can't believe that you'd try to spin this to be about Huntsman. you only wrote 36 words (out of 400) about the poll winner? That is only 9% of your words! This is another clear illustration of why the Ron Paul supporters are so agree at the mainstream media. If Romney had taken first with Ron Paul's numbers, he would have received more than 9% of the article. The mainstream media seems to dismiss these results for Ron Paul, as you did, by saying, "[he] continued his record of strong straw poll performances...". Isn't that the point? Doesn't this mean that the Ron Paul supporters are more willing to travel than other people's supporters? I suggest you go to a Ron Paul event on a college campus this fall and decide for yourself. He's a rock star on college campuses. I bet you'd dismiss that by saying something like, "college students want drug legalization" or something similar. What you fail to realize is that Ron Paul supporters are the most vocal, the most willing to donate money, and the most willing to travel for their candidate. You can dismiss him if you want, but a real reporter would cover that story instead of talking about second place. This is America. We don't remember second place.

    June 18, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. Serpico

    RLC 2011

    Paul ...................612 ----–38.7%
    Huntsman .......... 382-----24.8%
    Bachmann .......... 191-----12.4&
    Cain .................. 104 ------6.7%
    Romney .............. 74 ------4.8%
    Gingrich .............. 69 ------4.5%
    Palin ................... 41 ------2.7%
    Santorum ............ 30 ------1.9%
    Pawlenty ............. 18 ------1.2%
    Johnson .............. 10 ------0.7%
    Roemer ................ 9 ------0.6%
    McCotter .............. 2 ------0.1%

    Total Votes: 1542

    June 18, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    And all of these straw polls only mean that on that day, a specific group of Republican Party fanatics favored one candidate over another. This will mean squat when the big dance starts. The Republicans who consider themselves to be Social Moderates are not putting a lot of effort into Iowa, saving themselves for New Hampshire and South Carolina. Even though the Republican primaries are not supposed to be "Winner Take All" for 2012, as some candidates see themselves never rising above single digits, their funding will dry up and they will drop out.

    So go ahead. Waste all the time and effort you want on these useless straw polls. Eventually the chaff will winnow itself out and all you Ron Paul supporters will realize he has as much chance of winning the Republican Nomination as Ralph Nader has of winning the Democratic one.

    June 18, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. commie news network

    Sooo Ron Paul wins but he isn't the headline? MSM working hard on this one!

    June 18, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. integrity

    If all you know about Ron Paul is that he's "extreme" and "radical" then you owe it to yourself to learn more. I respectfully request that you tune out what the media is saying and watch some youtube videos on what the Congressman is saying himself instead of what someone is saying about him. Calling someone "extreme" or "radical" is what people say when they do not want to take the time to articulate a real arguement. You owe it to yourself to learn more before deciding.

    June 18, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  18. GL

    vic , nashville ,tn

    Michele Bachmann beat Mitt Romney that is good news

    Yes it is.

    June 18, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Jake

    Ron Paul wins and the second place liberal democrat gets the headline.....Huntsman..Obama's ambassador to, he isnt a republican, he is a liberal pretending to be a conservative...much like Romney.

    Ron Paul is the front runner...easily. And the only "TRUE" Republican running, the rest are big government status quo hacks.

    Romney and Huntsman are pro abortion, global warming, gun control.....come on. give me a break. How about someone who is pro life and pro guns rights...heck someone who is pro Bill of Rights and Constitution.....RON PAUL

    Vote RON PAUL to restore the Republican Party to its conservative roots.

    June 18, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. MI Guy

    "And his strong finish in the straw poll might have gotten a boost from some behind-the-scenes work by his political team. Several of his political advisers, including John Weaver, Chris Allen, John Yob and Jake Suski, made the trip to New Orleans and were seen huddling with delegates at the riverfront hotel where the conference was held."

    I could smell John Yob on him a million miles away. John Yob rigged Straw Polls for Rick Snyder and his other candidates in MI by intimidating delegates, I'm sure he did it to get Huntsman a second place finish. Anyone working with John Yob will never get my vote.

    June 18, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  21. Jonathan

    Wow. Ron Paul wins with 40% of the vote, and your headline lauds the second place finisher who picked up 25% of the vote. You then continue to focus most of your article on him, and devote a single sentence to the candidate who won in a landslide.

    Do you actually call yourself a professional journalist? This is shameful.

    June 18, 2011 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. Kaphen DePriest

    People are sick and tired of the same old big government republicans who have held the reins of the party for way too long. They better get on board or soon they will be outsiders looking in as Constitutional Conservative take over the party and bring America back to what made it exceptional in the first place.

    Ron Paul 2012

    June 18, 2011 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |

    Ron Paul wins the straw poll, Huntsman comes in distant second.

    RON PAUL 2012 !!

    June 18, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  24. Lou

    I agree that its NOT A SURPRISE that the man who should be the next president of the US won this Poll.

    Ron Paul 2012!!!

    June 18, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  25. once upon a horse

    got to love these straw polls. There has to be something better to do with pieces of hay than this.

    June 18, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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