Mitt Romney Edges Ron Paul in Straw Poll Beats him by one vote; Palin, Gingrich are third and fourth By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Apr 10, 2010 7:40 PM CDT 25 comments Comments Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (John Bazemore) (Newser) – Mitt Romney didn't attend the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, but he still got a boost from those at the conference. The former Massachusetts governor won a test vote of likely 2012 presidential candidates—by one vote. He got 439. Texas Rep. Ron Paul came in second with 438 votes, followed by Sarah Palin with 330 and Newt Gingrich with 321. Conference staffers put names on the ballot of people they thought were likely to run. Also on the ballot: Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum, and Gary Johnson. Over the three-day conference, 1,806 ballots were cast.