Texas Congressman Ron Paul won a Republican Leadership Conference straw poll on Saturday, besting former U.S. envoy to China Jon Huntsman, who finished second. Rep. Michele Bachmann was third and businessman Herman Cain was fourth. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who leads several national GOP opinion polls, came in fifth place.
Paul reportedly brought busloads of supporters to the New Orleans conference. He won with 612 votes in a nonbinding poll of nearly 2,000 delegates from 38 states.
The Republican Leadership Conference has had a scattered record of picking winners. In 2006, former Sen. Bill Frist won but never got his campaign off the ground. However, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush won in 1998 before launching his successful campaign to capture the White House.