Texas Senator Ted Cruz edged out neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson to win the Republican Leadership Conference presidential straw poll.

The tally, via Breitbart:

In the straw poll, 633 ballots were cast, which was attended by more than 1,500 people. The results were as follows:

1. Ted Cruz — 30.33 percent
2. Ben Carson — 29.38 percent
3. Rand Paul — 10.43 percent
4. Mike Huckabee — 5.06 percent
5. Rick Perry — 4.90 percent
6. Curt Clawson (write-in) 4.58 percent
7. Jeb Bush — 4.42 percent
8. Marco Rubio — 3.32 percent
9. Rick Santorum — 2.37 percent
10. Paul Ryan — 2.05 percent
11. Allen West (write-in) — 2.05 percent
12. Chris Christie — 1.11%

Carson’s supporters evidently did a superb job in organizing for him at the conference. But we’re going to be spending 8 years excoriating a president who lacked any relevant experience for the office. Carson has zero experience in politics and government. Why would we want to repeat the mistake we made with Obama?

No matter. The big surprise from the straw poll was Rand Paui’s distant 3rd place finish. He may not have poured any resources into organizing at the event — he wasn’t in attendance at the conference. But given his showing at the CPAC event where he finished 1st, it must have been a disappointment to finish so far out of the running.

Meanwhile, Cruz wowed the crowd with a barnburner of a speech:

CNN:

The potential 2016 presidential candidate said that across the country, people tell him that they are scared – of losing their freedom, losing their constitutional rights, and bankrupting their children and grandchildren.

“There is an urgency facing this country – there is an urgency in politics unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” he said, arguing those fears were driving a new movement.

“America is waking up. We are seeing revival, we are seeing renewal, and together – mark my words – we are going to turn this nation around,” he said.

Cruz highlighted his past battles with what he regards as the Washington elites, Democrat and Republican, in the fight over drones, gun rights and filibusters. But he cited a “tsunami” of populist power, a wave of grassroots support as the core of those victories.

“Thank you!” he exclaimed to a shout of thanks from the audience. “Nobody cares what any politician in Washington says. Power in politics, sovereignty in America is with we the people, and that is the path to turning this country around, empowering the people.”

That wave will unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, and force Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, out, he said to applause and cheers. A conservative Democrat, Landrieu faces a tough re-election this fall, and the crowd of Louisiana Republicans is eager to unseat her and strip the Democrats of their majority status.

Cruz’s victory in the straw poll is significant because the attendees at the RLC are committed activists who donate money and volunteer for campaigns. It was an impressive demonstration of support from Republicans who matter, as the Texas Senator appears to have a leg up on other conservatives who may run next year.