Former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain won the on-site presidential straw poll at a Tea Party convention in Arizona this past weekend.
Between the on-site and online straw polls, there were 1,600 votes cast for the Tea Party Patriots' American Policy Summit presidential straw polls. Tea Party activists attending the event in person at the Phoenix convention center favored Cain over more popular GOP candidates such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Cain, a conservative talk show host, took the top spot with 22 percent of the on-site votes. Trailing behind him is former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty with 16 percent, and then Paul at 15 percent.
Paul, however, won the majority of overall votes cast in online and on-site straw polls. Paul's supporters are well-known for their online activism. In the online poll, Cain came in a close second with Palin in third and Pawlenty in fourth place.
Cain is the only name on the ballot that has officially declared his candidacy for the 2012 presidential election.
On the website of his presidential exploratory committee, Cain parlays his leadership in the business world into a platform.
He writes in an introductory letter, "The American Dream is under attack."
Cain contends he can save that dream using his experience. He is a Georgia native who, as he states, has achieved the American Dream for himself and his poor African-American parents by earning his bachelor and master degrees and rising to leadership positions in the Coca-Cola and Pillsbury companies.
By contrast, President Barack Obama's administration does not understand business, he contends.
"Only 7 percent of his appointees, or the people he surrounds himself with, have actually worked in the private sector. They don't understand how business works or how to go about solving the biggest problem we have which is stimulating this economy," he expressed during a Feb. 17 television interview.
If elected president, Cain says he would preserve the American dream for others by reigning in government spending and excessive taxes.
He pushed for tax reform during the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month.
"The only way to fix our messed up tax code is to throw it out and put in a whole new system called the Fair Tax," advocated Cain at CPAC. The fair tax system would, among other things, abolish the Internal Revenue Service and institute a national retail sales tax.
Although the poll may be a boost for the largely unknown candidate, national polls show that Republicans have not chosen a clear favorite in the race.
The percentages in the polls show only a 4 percent difference at most between the top candidates. In the absence of a strong leader, former governors Palin, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas have consistently been at the top of the polls.
Huckabee led in the most recent Gallup poll with 18 percent of the 1,326 Republican and Republican-leaning independent responders. Palin and Romney both trailed behind him with 16 percent each. Cain was at the bottom of the poll with less than 1 percent.