And the winner of the Illinois Republican Party's first online straw poll is ... Ron Paul.
The Texas congressman won the statewide poll of presidential candidates with 52 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney won in-person voting with 35 percent but trailed Herman Cain's 15 percent web haul with 7 percent online.
Online voting opened at 9 a.m. Oct. 29 and closed at 7 p.m. Saturday at IllinoisStrawPoll.com. In-person voting was held Saturday at locations throughout the state.
"Other states have straw polls but no one has ever done what we’re doing," Sen. Mark Kirk said last week. "Voters from Chicago to Cairo will have their votes counted on who they prefer to be the nominee for President via the Internet or a location near their home."
And so they voted. The tallied 3,649 votes doesn't sound like much, but Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady pointed out Illinois' efforts beat Ohio, which saw 428 votes in its straw poll earlier this year, and Florida, which had 2,647.
“Today’s straw poll was an excellent opportunity to showcase our party’s strength one year out of the election,” Brady said in a statement over the weekend. “I am pleased with today’s turnout and look forward to building on our successes from 2010.”
To vote, folks needed to contribute $5 to the Illinois Republican Party, with proceeds split 50/50 between state and county parties.
“I congratulate Congressman Paul on his victory,” said Brady. “It is clear Illinois Republicans are gearing up tremendous election year in in 2012."