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Ron Paul, Herman Cain Split Tea Party Patriots Straw Poll Vote

Updated: 2:50 p.m.

PHOENIX — Herman Cain and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) emerged as the frontrunners in a tea party straw poll conducted this weekend.

Cain won the live presidential straw poll conducted at the Tea Party Patriots policy summit, while Paul swept the online vote.

Cain, a Georgia businessman who riled up activists at the conservative conference Friday evening, took 22 percent of the live vote.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty came in second with 16 percent, followed by Paul with 15 percent and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with 10 percent. But Paul stole the show online, where he received 50 percent of the vote. Cain came in second with 12 percent, followed by Palin with 9 percent.

About 1,600 people voted in person, while 2,300 of the people watching online cast their ballots.

The group did not verify whether Web viewers were members of the tea party movement. Paul and Pawlenty, who is considered the frontrunner in the group, appeared at the Arizona conference Saturday

“The mood at this summit shows that tea party activists are looking for leaders who share our principles of fiscal responsibility and limited government,” Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin said.

Conference attendees raved about Cain’s Friday evening speech, which focused on his opposition to President Barack Obama and the Democrats.

“This is what the left and liberals are most afraid of,” Cain said of the tea party movement. “The sleeping giant is awake, and it’s not going back to sleep.”

The tea party group had some trouble putting together the straw poll results. Some people did not confirm their votes over text message, spokesman Randy Lewis said, so the leaders had to do a last-minute recount.

Before the results were announced, Lewis said the poll was not definitive of whom the tea parties will back in the 2012 race.

“It’s not going to be terribly indicative of who is the frontrunner going into 2012 for the tea party, but I think it could be an early indicator,” Lewis said. “The tea party is going to be the base everyone’s going to want.”