Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich won a straw poll of Florida Tea Party Patriots members held on a conference call Sunday evening, with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum a close second.
Gingrich, Santorum, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney all participated in the call. Texas Congressman Ron Paul was extended an invitation, but was unable to attend.
At the end of the call, participants were asked who they would vote for if the election were held today. Thirty-five percent said they would vote for Gingrich, 31 percent for Santorum, 18 percent for Romney, and 11 percent for Paul. Five percent selected none of the above.
Callers were also polled on their relative levels of enthusiasm for supporting each of the potential GOP nominees. In a dead heat, Santorum and Gingrich generated the most enthusiasm.
During the call, the candidates were asked what they would do to tackle the national debt and reduce spending. They were also quizzed about elements of their records that presented “trust issues” for tea partiers eager to elect a president who would uphold conservative values.
Nearly 6,000 people were on the call, and about 600 people voted, according to Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin.