Mitt Romney took an early lead over Ron Paul as counting began of the straw poll conducted today with the Washington state Republican precinct caucuses.
The state Republican Party said results from 15 of the state's 39 counties showed Romney with 1,213 votes, or about 31.5 percent and Paul with 1,035 votes or about 27 percent.
Rick Santorum was in third, with 938 votes or 24 percent and Newt Gingrich a distant fourth with 495 votes for 13 percent. Another 166 caucus attendees had marked their straw vote ballot as "undecided."
The straw poll was conducted by a ballot given to all caucus attendees as they arrived for the 10 a.m. meetings. It's a non-binding poll and delegates who will attend the national convention and vote for the presidential nominee are chosen through a process that begins with the precinct caucuses today and ends with the state convention in June.