AMES, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has won the Iowa Straw Poll.

Nearly 17,000 Iowans weighed in on the contest, giving Bachmann bragging rights as the Iowa Straw Poll victor — and, perhaps, a burst of momentum — with 28 percent of the votes cast. Texas Rep. Ron Paul came in a close second, while former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was looking for a strong showing to boost his struggling candidacy, fared a distant third.

It’s the first indication of what Iowans think of the GOP presidential field and which candidate has the best get-out-the-vote organization.

The result comes five months before Iowa holds the caucuses that kick off the Republican nomination season.

Nine candidates were on the ballot. But not all competed.

Mitt Romney, the GOP front-runner in national polls, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman sat it out. And supporters of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin waged write-in campaigns.