-- Michele Bachmann: 4,823
-- Ron Paul: 4,671
-- Tim Pawlenty: 2,293
-- Rick Santorum: 1,657
-- Herman Cain: 1,456
-- Rick Perry: 718
-- Mitt Romney: 567
-- Newt Gingrich: 385
-- Jon Huntsman Jr: 69
-- Thad McCotter: 35
But while Michele Bachmann garnered the most votes, is she the true winner in terms of effort and expectations? Consider this; Bachmann not only is an economically and socially-conservative Congresswoman from an adjoining state, but she is a native of Waterloo, IA. Thus Bachmann had a home-field advantage going into the straw poll, even more so than former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. And she played it to the hilt -- bussing in more voters than other candidates.
In contrast, Ron Paul is not from Minnesota or Iowa. Furthermore, while Ron Paul's supporters were motivated and organized, Paul himself didn't hold particularly high expectations, telling voters in Waterloo that he could reasonably see himself finishing fourth, fifth or sixth in the poll.
Instead, he finished second, only 152 votes behind Bachmann. Here's a video of Ron Paul's speech, during which he emphasized his pro-life views, saying that government cannot play God and make decisions on abortions, and repeated his consistent opposition to America's military adventurism abroad:
Thus while Michele Bachmann did make an impressive showing, Ron Paul exceeded expectations and got much more for his effort than Bachmann. One can conclude that Ron Paul was the real winner in this poll, for it shows he's clearly a top-tier candidate alongside Bachmann, Romney, and Rick Perry. If Sarah Palin decides to jump in, she'll also instantly become a top tier candidate because of her own passion and universal name recognition, as well as the enthusiasm and dedication of her fanatically loyal core of supporters.
After the vote, ABC News caught up with campaign chairman Jesse Barton:
“Dr. Paul’s finish earned him a strong second place and it was the fourth highest vote total ever received by a candidate at the important test of candidate strength...Dr. Paul is surging in this race, and today’s results show the strength of his grassroots support and top notch organization.”
This isn't 2008 revisited. Ron Paul clearly is a committed and serious candidate this time around, willing to end his U.S. House career in order to pursue the Presidency. Alaskans are waking up; Ron Paul activists are beginning to bestir themselves in the Last Frontier as the Alaska for Ron Paul 2012 Facebook page gets more attention. And while Rick Perry's entry into the race temporarily crowded the field, Tim Pawlenty offset that by exiting from the race (Pawlenty has not endorsed anyone else yet). Pawlenty's early exit was also presaged by increasingly dismal national polling results, most recently this August 5-7 CNN/ORC poll showing him at only two percent.