Mitt Romney didn't even show up here this weekend. But he still won the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll -- beating Ron Paul, who was here, by one vote, 439-438, and winning 24 percent of the ballots. Only about half the delegates cast a vote.
Sarah Palin was in third place, with 18 percent, and Newt Gingrich was just behind her in fourth, also with 18 percent.
The straw poll isn't always a great predictor of who the next GOP presidential nominee will be -- four years ago, Bill Frist won the straw poll at a convention held in Memphis, Tenn. But in 1998, George W. Bush won the straw poll at the SRLC, even though he -- like Romney this time around -- wasn't there.
This was a surprise since both Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin made well received speeches while Romney was a no show. These straw polls are usually rather irrelevant. Also, Michael Steele acknowledged his mistakes in his speech yesterday.
In damage control mode, GOP national chairman Michael Steele on Saturday sought to quell the furor over his management of the Republican National Committee by acknowledging errors and vowing to learn from them.
"I'm the first here to admit that I've made mistakes, and it's been incumbent on me to take responsibility to shoulder that burden, make the necessary changes and move on," Steele told GOP activists and party leaders in New Orleans, drawing a standing ovation.
"The one mistake we cannot make this November is to lose," he added, and the crowd cheered in agreement.