Paul, who brought busloads of supporters to the conference, won with 612 votes in the nonbinding preference poll of nearly 2,000 delegates from 38 states who attended the gathering.
Huntsman finished second with 382 votes, Representative Michele Bachmann was third with 191 votes and businessman Herman Cain was fourth with 104 votes.
Huntsman, a former Utah governor, is set announce his bid for the White House on Tuesday.
No other candidate broke triple digits. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who leads national opinion polls in the 2012 Republican race for the nomination to challenge President Barack Obama, was fifth with 74 votes.
“This win is just the latest indicator of how the majority of American opinion is turning in Ron Paul’s direction,” said Jesse Benton, his campaign chairman.
Paul, Bachmann and Cain addressed the New Orleans conference on Friday. Huntsman was scheduled to speak but canceled because of illness. Romney and Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who earned 18 votes, skipped the event.
Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, who spoke on Thursday, had 69 votes. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who says she is considering becoming a candidate, had 41 votes. She also did not appear at the conference.
Former Senator Rick Santorum, who also spoke on Friday, had 30 votes.
Romney narrowly won the straw poll at the annual conference last year over Paul, but the survey has not been a reliable predictor of success. Bill Frist, who was Senate Republican leader at the time, won in 2006 and failed to ever get his campaign off the ground.
Texas Governor George W. Bush won in 1998, two years before he captured the White House.
A MESSAGE FROM RON PAUL:
Shockwaves from New Orleans
And the winner of the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference Straw Poll is . . .
Those are the words – uttered just minutes ago here at the RLC in New Orleans – that are sending shockwaves throughout the entire GOP establishment.
And it was YOU that made it happen! I can’t tell you how much that means to me.
You see, at last year’s straw poll, establishment darling Mitt Romney defeated me by only one vote.
But this year I defeated my nearest rival by more than 200 votes!
That means the establishment can no longer deny the fact that there is widespread grassroots support within the GOP for a return to constitutional government.
But it also means that the other candidates are being forced to realize the strength of our R3VOLUTION.
So you can be sure they will be going all-out to defeat me at the most important straw poll in the entire country – the Iowa Straw Poll in August.
That’s why I hope you’ll agree to make your most generous contribution
to help me WIN in Iowa.
Because Iowa is the first caucus state, the results of the Iowa Straw Poll are watched by millions of voters throughout the country.
They can launch a candidate to national prominence – or they can crush any hope of campaign success.
So won’t you please agree to make a generous donation
to help show that the R3VOLUTION is alive and well in Iowa?
Your generous contribution will help pay for tickets, buses, meals, and material for my supporters in Iowa to attend this critical straw poll.
Our victory in New Orleans must only be the beginning.
The Iowa Straw Poll is the MOST important straw poll in the entire nation.
That’s why it’s absolutely vital that our campaign have a strong showing there.
So please, help me shake the establishment up even more in Iowa by making your most generous contribution
P.S. Thanks to your help, I WON the important Republican Liberty Conference Straw Poll today in New Orleans.
Now, it’s time to focus on Iowa.
So please, help me WIN the Iowa Straw Poll by making your most generous contribution TODAY
Republican Party moving closer to Ron Paul’s position and away from the neocon warmongering one!
CNN GOP Debate – NH 6/13: “Everybody Repeat After Ron Paul”