NEW ORLEANS -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) won the Republican Leadership Conference straw poll here on Saturday, narrowly defeating neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Cruz took 30.3 percent of the vote, while Carson took 29.4 percent. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was a distant third at 10.4 percent, and Mike Huckabee and Texas Gov. Rick Perry both got about 5 percent.
Carson, Paul and Huckabee did not attend the conference, which featured relatively few leading 2016 contenders. Cruz kicked off the conference's final day on Saturday and received a huge reception.
Other top 2016 hopefuls who didn't attend, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Paul Ryan, were in the low single digits. Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who did attend and spoke before the straw poll Saturday, took just 2 percent.
Florida congressional candidate Curt Clawson (R), who aired an ad during the conference Saturday, received nearly 5 percent of the vote as a write-in candidate.
In total, 65 percent of ballots were cast for minority candidates -- Cruz, Carson, Rubio and former congressman Allen West (R-Fla.), who spoke at the conference and took 2 percent of the vote as a write-in.
The poll was sponsored by the GOP Web side Conservative Intel. Of 1,500 attendees, 633 voted in the straw poll.
Here are the full results:
1. Ted Cruz — 30.33 percent
2. Ben Carson — 29.38 percent
3. Rand Paul — 10.43 percent
4. Mike Huckabee — 5.06 percent
5. Rick Perry — 4.90 percent
6. Curt Clawson (write-in) -- 4.58 percent
7. Jeb Bush — 4.42 percent
8. Marco Rubio — 3.32 percent
9. Rick Santorum — 2.37 percent
10. Paul Ryan — 2.05 percent
11. Allen West (write-in) — 2.05 percent
12. Chris Christie — 1.11 percent