Herman Cain was the winner of a statewide presidential straw poll announced Saturday of all Missouri Tea Party members.
With 995 total votes counted statewide, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich were virtually tied for second at 28 percent of the vote each.
Poll totals were: Herman Cain, 320 (32 percent); Ron Paul, 282 (28 percent); Newt Gingrich, 276 (28 percent); Mitt Romney, 32 (3 percent); Michele Bachmann, 31 (3 percent); Rick Perry, 30 (3 percent); Rick Santorum, 13 (1 percent); Others, 2 percent.
Philip Todd said the one-week poll was conducted between Nov. 10 and Nov. 17 throughout Missouri.
James Holland, a Callaway County Patriot Tea Party leader, said he was not surprised by the results or by the fact that Romney, a consistent front runner in many nationwide presidential polls, had only 3 percent of the vote in the statewide poll of Tea Party members.
Tea Party poll results have continued to vary during the campaign.
Holland said Gingrich has been rising in the polls and won a recent poll in Iowa. He said Gingrich, Cain and Paul were all above Romney in the polls. "That pleased me a lot," Holland said.
"Voting for Romney would be a lot like voting for John McCain again. It's time we tried some conservatives for a change. We've tried it their way and now it's time we tried it the Ronald Reagan way," Holland said.
"We have shown," Todd said, "that the candidates who rise to the top with the people are not the statists and progressives the general media promotes."
Holland agreed that Tea Party members and most other voters don't want a dominating central government.
"There's no example anywhere on the planet of a socialist system working. It works only - as Maggie Thatcher said - until they run out of other people's money. We are running out of other people's money. It's time to tighten our belts and stop kicking the can down the road for our grandkids to pick up the tab. It's time for us to do the right thing," Holland said.
Holland said he doesn't want to support candidates assumed to be leaders of the presidential race such as Romney.
"It's been assumed by many that Romney will be the candidate against Obama. More than likely he will be the candidate because to win a primary candidates move to the center," Holland said.
"The beauty of the Tea Party is that we are not organized. We are all autonomous groups. There is no real sense of who we all like. There never will be a consensus. It's just like the polls show. There is no real agreement on one person," Holland said.