Joe Dendy, Cobb GOP chairman, said results for the straw poll put Cain at 43 percent, compared to only 14 percent for Newt Gingrich, 13 percent for Michele Bachmann, 10 percent for Rick Perry, eight percent for Mitt Romney, five percent for Tim Pawlenty, 3.5 percent for Ron Paul and three percent for Sarah Palin.
Rick Santorum and Gary Johnson received only one vote each, he said.
Of the 724 people who turned out to the event at Jim Miller Park about half voted in the straw poll, meaning half the people in attendance were likely undecided, Dendy said.
Traditionally when a candidate shows up to an event like Monday's it skews the votes in his or her favor, but Dendy said none of the candidates were present at what he calls the largest political barbecue in the state.
"Herman has come to Cobb County several times over the last several years and a lot of people know him, and he impresses lots of folks in Cobb County. He impresses the tea party, and we have a strong tea party in Cobb County," Dendy said, speculating on why Cain won the poll, while adding that as party chairman he does not endorse any candidate. "He's a strong businessman, proven himself as a businessman and at this time everyone is looking at the economy," Dendy said.
Speaking to the crowd, U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) noted that 87 new Republicans had joined the House, changing the entire dynamic of Washington.
"So now we're talking about smaller government, less oppressive government, and less spending, and that's what we ought to be talking about," Price said.
Yet Price warned that President Obama would use "every demagogic tool in his box" to turn the public against Republicans.
"And the way that that happens is as we approach this debt ceiling challenge that we've got right now Congress can say, 'no,' and then the president decides who gets paid," Price said. "And if the president says 'OK, that's all right with me, but the troops won't get paid, the senior citizens won't get their Social Security check and the docs taking care of Medicare patients won't get paid,' that's what we're looking at. The only way for us to prevail is for you to stand strong, recruit your friends, your neighbors, everybody else to the cause."
State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) tried to put the nation's debt problem into perspective. Imagine a family with an income of $100,000 and a credit card debt of $650,000, he said.
"Friends, that's where our nation is today," Setzler said. "Our federal government takes in $2.2 trillion in total revenues and we have $14.3 trillion in debt. Our national debt is six and a half times what we take in each year as a nation."
The solution is for the federal government to pass a constitutional amendment that would mandate the annual approval of a balanced budget, just as the state of Georgia does, he said.
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens), who delivered the invocation, warned about the future of the U.S.
"We're standing on the precipice, staring down in the deep chasm of socialism and total government control," Broun said.
Broun called on the audience to reflect on the principles provided by the Founding Fathers, "and be engaged by responding to restore those principles that have made this the greatest nation ever in the history of mankind, the greatest political experiment, and it was all because this nation stood firm on God's principles."
There are those who wish to destroy the U.S., Broun said, citing radical Islam and "progressives."
"Father, there are many who want to destroy us from outside this nation," Broun said. "Folks like al-Qaeda and the radical Islamists. But there are folks that want to destroy us from inside, the progressives and the socialists, who want to make this nation a nation that's no longer under you, under God, but a nation that's ruled by man."
U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) said when Obama was first elected he went on a world tour and proceeded to apologize "for all the sins of U.S."
"And when he was asked about American exceptionalism, his comment was something to the effect that, 'well, all countries are exceptional,'" Gingrey said. "Well, many countries are special, but only one is exceptional, and that is the United State of America. And we need never apologize for that."
State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) said if Republicans want to win in the next election, the message must be one of freedom. That's why he supports the Fair Tax and healthcare that allows medical choices to take place between him and his doctor rather than between him and the president.
Moreover, "I support a parent's right to choose how their child is educated because the next generation of Americans are the ones that are going to keep us free, and they ought not have to be dictated by government," Rogers said. "It ought to be the parents who run education in this country. Not the government. You should not have to go to a school based on your United States postal mailing address."
Rogers called such a requirement crazy.
"You ought to go to the education system where your parents want you to go, and when we give parents that power, when we empower parents and give children freedom, guess what? This country will be greater than we've ever known."
Among those in attendance Monday were Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren, Attorney General Sam Olens, Georgia Tea Party Chairman J.D. Van Brink, Ag Commissioner Gary Black and Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.
Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart said she likely came to the first Cobb GOP Bar-B-Q in the mid 1970s.
"It was at somebody's house, but you know, Republicans were poor in those days," Everhart said. "We couldn't afford something like this, but it always kind of energizes us to get ready for the next election cycle, and of course we're starting a little early this time because we've got to take back our country."
Surveying the Republicans who had come together to break bread, state Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb) said it was a reaffirmation that citizens care about the nation and what's happening to it.
"And they're willing to be involved and stand up for what they believe by working through our county's party system," Cooper said. "We are a country that solves our elections without guns. We do it at the election ballot. And the rhetoric can get heated and we can all defend the person we want to support but in the end we come together."
Meantime, at the other end of the political spectrum, the Cobb Democratic Party hosted a hamburger and hotdog cookout at Rhyne Park in Smyrna.
State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) estimated a turnout of about 80 for the event, called the Herb Butler Independence Day Picnic.
"We got rained on and everybody hung out under the pavilion," Wilkerson said. "I saw a lot of new people and there was a lot of excitement. It was a good time."