Declared candidate Herman Cain won 24 percent of The Washington Times/Conservative Leadership Conference poll, followed by fellow presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, with 21 percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who hasn't indicated whether he'll seek the GOP presidential nomination, third at 17 percent, the newspaper reported Monday.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, also a declared nomination hopeful, was fourth with 16 percent, and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was fifth with 8 percent.
CLC President Chuck Muth told the Times one reason for the results was Friday's Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicating the nation's jobless rate rose to 9.2.
As a chief executive officer, Cain was credited with turning around the Godfather's pizza chain. Romney was cited for rescuing the financially troubled venture capital firm of Bain & Company and the shaky 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Under Perry's watch, Texas outpaced every other state since the economic recovery began in June 2009, adding 250,300 net jobs.
Pollsters told the Times a straw poll serves as a yardstick of a candidate's organizational skills.
"From the point of view of science, straw polls are meaningless," pollster John Zogby said. "But they do have value in that they display a candidate's ability to spend resources wisely and organizational effectiveness. They also reveal the degree of passionate support for the candidate."
The poll was taken among more than 200 conservatives attending a conference in Nevada during the weekend. Data about the number of people polled or the margin of error were not listed.