Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich… (Tony Gutierrez / Associated…)
Newt Gingrich emerged the winner in a Sunday night straw poll of tea party voters after he and three other Republican presidential candidates courted more than 23,000 activists during a tele-forum sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots coalition.
Gingrich won with 31% of the vote. Second place went to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who won 28%. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won 20%, and former Sen. Rick Santorum won 16%.
All four participated in a pre-poll call with activists, in which they each spent 10 minutes responding to questions from participants and gave a 90-second closing pitch for support.
Not participating in the event were Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. None received more than 3% of the vote.
“An overwhelming number of activists from around the nation showed they are serious about electing a candidate who advances Tea Party principles,” said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, a group that claims to be the nation’s largest tea party organization. “Just as in 2010, candidates like Newt Gingrich will need to show they will be fiscally responsible and protect the Constitution in the White House.”
The poll found that Gingrich and Bachmann are essentially tied when it comes to tea party enthusiasm – 36% said they were very enthusiastic about Gingrich; 35% said the same of Bachmann.
Huntsman and Paul scored the lowest on enthusiasm, with 65% and 64%, respectively, saying they were not enthusiastic about the candidates.