Mitt Romney won the Republican straw poll in Iowa on Saturday by a wide margin, but his victory was tempered by the conspicuous absence of the other big names in the campaign: John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. Mike Huckabee, meanwhile, turned heads with a surprising second-place finish. Tommy Thompson said previously he would drop out of the race if he didn’t get second or better. He placed sixth.

Los Angeles Times:

The contest drew 14,302 voters to the Iowa State University basketball arena. … It was a sharp drop from the 23,685 who cast ballots eight years ago in the Ames straw poll that affirmed George W. Bush’s lead in his first run for the presidency.

Romney led with 32% of the votes, followed by Huckabee, who won 18%. Finishing third was Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas with 15%. In fourth place was Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, who has made the fight against illegal immigration his campaign centerpiece. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was fifth.

The results appeared likely to end the campaign of former Gov. Tommy G. Thompson of Wisconsin, who finished sixth. He had vowed to drop out of the race if he fell short of second place in Ames.

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