The votes are in and officials have identified Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann as the victor in the Ames Iowa Straw Poll, closely followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.
According to the Wall Street Journal the tally for the top three candidates went Bachmann at 4,823 votes, Paul with a close 4,671, and Pawlenty at a distant third with 2,293.
The win validates the power and momentum of Bachmann's campaign, and makes her the frontrunner in the Iowa caucuses set to be the first in the presidential balloting process to begin in February 2012.
At a close second, Rep. Paul and his followers were pleased with their showing in Iowa. Following the results, PBS's David Chalian Tweeted that the Paul camp said "Today, Paul has emerged as a top teir candidate and is a serious contender to win the Republican nomination and the Presidency."
Moments after the results were announced, Pawlenty's campaign released in a statement:
“We made progress in moving from the back of the pack into a competitive position for the caucuses, but we have a lot more work to do,' Mr. Pawlenty said. 'This is a long process to restore America — we are just beginning and I’m looking forward to a great campaign.”
16, 892 voters came and cast votes in Ames on Saturday. That turnout easily exceeds the over-under number of 14,000 which some strategists guessed. Politico reports that the conventional wisdom has been that high turnout benefits Michele Bachmann.
Bachmann will be featured tomorrow on ABC’s “This Week,” Bloomberg’s “Political Capital,” CBS’s “Face the Nation,” CNN’s “State of the Union,” “Fox News Sunday” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will also drop by ABC, and Herman Cain is on CNN.
Bachmann's victory comes as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney still leads the pack of GOP 2012 hopefuls in most national polls, and the same day Texas Governor Rick Perry enters the race. Some have speculated that Perry's entrance threatens Bachmann's control of support from many social conservatives and evangelical members of the Republican Party.
Since first held in 1979, George W. Bush is the only candidate to have won the Ames Iowa Straw Poll, Iowa Caucus, GOP nomination, and presidency. Bob Dole is the only other Republican to have won both the Straw Poll and Iowa Caucus in the same election.
After the top three, CBS News reports that in fourth place was Rick Santorum with 1,657 votes, followed by Herman Cain with 1,456 votes. As a write-in candidate Rick Perry got 718 votes, good enough for sixth. Mitt Romney came in seventh with 567 votes, Newt Gingrich 385, Jon Huntsman with 68 votes and Thaddeus McCotter with 35 votes.