A political outsider with business skills emerged as the crowd favorite in a Republican straw poll in the West, but it isn’t the mouth from Manhattan that took the prize.

Herman Cain, political activist and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, edged ahead of an open field of challengers in a poll conducted among attendees of the Washington State Republican Party’s spring dinner and auction in Bellevue, Wash. last Friday night.

Perhaps boosted by a strong performance in last week’s debate held in South Carolina, businessman and presidential hopeful Herman Cain won the poll by a slight margin over the field of declared and undeclared competitors for the Republican Party’s 2012 nomination.

According to the results released Monday afternoon, among 357 voters, Cain received 54 votes amounting to a little more than 15 percent of the total ballots cast, but surmounting former governor Mitt Romney’s 52 votes and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ 51 votes.

Though making a large splash in recent weeks, megabucks tycoon Donald Trump only nabbed 10 votes, possibly a sign that his appeal with party regulars in Washington state is weak.

Former governor Mike Huckabee, a front-runner in most national polls, also polled low, garnering a scant 14 votes. Huckabee’s questionable pardon of notorious four-time cop-killer Maurice Clemmons could certainly have played a part in suppressing enthusiasm among the law-and-order right in Western Washington for his candidacy.

In a statement released with the tally, Washington State GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur mused on why Cain may have grabbed a plurality of votes.

“The close results demonstrate that the Republican Party does not have a clear frontrunner,” Wilbur stated.

“Herman Cain has been doing an excellent job getting his name out among Republican voters and his style appeals to many people. As the process moves forward and more individuals enter the race, it will be interesting to see how the perception of the various candidates changes.”

Candidates, there are healthy doses of truth and medicine in Wilbur’s statement.

The complete results of the WSRP straw poll are:

Name Vote Total Percentage
Herman Cain 54 15.13%
Mitt Romney 52 14.57%
Mitch Daniels 51 14.29%
Chris Christie 39 10.92%
Tim Pawlenty 28 7.84%
Paul Ryan 22 6.16%
Newt Gingrich 14 3.92%
Rudy Giuliani 12 3.36%
Mike Huckabee 14 3.92%
Ron Paul 10 2.80%
Donald Trump 10 2.80%
Michele Bachmann 9 2.52%
Jeb Bush 8 2.24%
Sarah Palin 8 2.24%
Rick Santorum 7 1.96%
Bobby Jindal 6 1.68%
Jon Huntsman 4 1.12%
Other 9 2.52%
357 100.00%

The poll is not scientific and does not report any margin of error.


flickr photo content: Gage Skidmore