The Washington Times - December 10, 2013, 01:45PM

It’s never too early for a nice juicy straw poll, particularly if it’s of the presidential variety. The Tea Party Patriots have already drawn 250,000 voters to a survey listing potential 2016 hopefuls of interest to liberty-minded folk. The grass-roots group intends to drawn a million votes by March. Who’s leading this early, early match-up among undeclared candidates?

In front, it’s Sen. Ted Cruz; the Texas Republican has garnered 40 percent of the votes. He’s followed by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky with 21 percent, who is publicly wrestling with a White House run despite misgivings from his wife. In third place is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 10 percent.

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And yes, Sarah Palin is on the roster, drawing 6 percent of the votes. Just under a quarter of the voters indicated they were either undecided or have someone else in mind.

The poll is the proverbial shot across the bow to those who dismiss tea party influence or relevance.

“We need to show the liberal Democrats that we can - and we will - heavily support tea party candidates who are running to replace them,” says Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the organization, which represents 3,500 local groups.

“And even more importantly, we need to put liberal Republicans on notice. They need to know that if they don’t toe the line, we’ll replace them as well,” she adds.