Herman Cain's victory in the Florida Republican straw poll Saturday showed that GOP voters remain far from united on any 2012 presidential nominee.
Cain's success was a particular blow to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who had worked hard to court the participants and has been considered a top contender for the GOP nomination.
Cain delivered a powerful speech to the delegates in Orlando just before the non-binding vote, and he won 37 percent of about 2,600 ballots cast.
Perry came in a weak second with 15 percent. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who didn't officially compete, was third with 14 percent, demonstrating that he had little depth of support even though he has been campaigning in Florida for six years. The other candidates trailed badly.
Cain is the former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza and is running as a strong conservative and Washington outsider. A political newcomer, he isn't considered likely to win the GOP nomination, but his victory shows that GOP voters aren't satisfied with the top contenders and want to give others a chance to prove themselves.
One reason for Perry's loss was his lackluster performance in a GOP presidential debate last Thursday, according to GOP strategists. Another reason for the outcome in Florida was that Cain, an African American conservative and an inspirational speaker, strikes a chord among strict conservatives.
But there is no consensus in the GOP. Perry was the surging a few weeks ago but has now stalled. Michele Bachman won the Iowa straw poll over the summer and she has also faded in the polls. It looks like a long road to the GOP nomination.
For another analysis of the Cain victory, see today's Washington Post.
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