Frist Easily Wins Republican Straw Poll

National Journal’s Hotline on Call is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) easily won today’s straw poll at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

Frist’s victory, with 36.9% of the vote, came as no surprise. With the conference in his home state of Tennessee and his emphasizing the importance of the vote, he had a distinct advantage over other 2008 GOP presidential hopefuls.

Particularly of note about Frist’s supporters: a mere 74 97 voters were from outside Tennessee. That means 82% of his backers were from Tennessee. So while Frist might see today’s vote as a victory, it actually should be an eye-opening lesson about the work he needs to do.

Perhaps most surprising was the strong performance of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who placed second with 14.4%. Romney beat Virginia Sen. George Allen—a favorite among Washington insiders—who finished with 10.3%. Romney also held a 10 percentage point advantage over the next closest governor, Mike Huckabee, who had 3.8%.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, who may have left Memphis with more enemies than friends for his straw poll mutiny, finished with 4.6%. Take together with supporters of President Bush—whom McCain urged his supporters to write in—he would have had 14.7%, slightly more than Romney.

Here are the complete, unofficial results courtesy of Hotline on Call:

Raw %age
Bill Frist 526 36.9%
Mitt Romney 205 14.4
George Allen 147 10.3
Pres. Bush (write in) 147 10.3
John McCain 66 4.6
Mike Huckabee 54 3.8
Write In (Not GB/CR) 43 3.0
George Pataki 38 2.7
Condi Rice (write in) 32 2.2
Sam Brownback 22 1.5
Rudy Giuliani 15 1.1
Newt Gingrich 13 0.9
Chuck Hagel 3 0.2

UPDATE — March 13: For what it’s worth, Sen. George Allen received 95 votes from outside of Virginia — comparable to the 97 Frist received from outside Tennessee.