In a rout, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney trounced Rick Perry and the rest of the GOP field to win the National Journal Hotline/National Association of Home Builders Straw Poll of GOP activists attending a weekend conference in Michigan.
Romney received 51 percent of the 681 votes cast, a whopping 34-percentage point victory over second-place Perry, who garnered 17 percent. It was the second straight defeat for Perry in a straw poll, after he finished second in another contest Saturday in Florida. The twin disappointments, along with weak debate performances, have raised questions about whether the Texas governor will remain the perceived front-runner in the GOP nomination fight.
Romney grew up in suburban Detroit and in the Michigan governor's mansion; his father, George Romney, served as the state's chief executive from 1963 to 1969. Michigan is likely to hold its presidential nomination contest on Feb. 28, a week before Super Tuesday. It is also an important state in the general election contest.
Both Romney and Perry addressed the conference Saturday, and while Perry took subtle digs at his GOP rival, Romney denounced President Obama's economic leadership. "I just don't think he's equipped for what's happening," the former Massachusetts governor said.
Third place in the Hotline straw poll went to former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who won the Florida poll Saturday. He received 9 percent of the votes among Michigan Republican activists.