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Measuring votes in T-shirts and pizza

AMES, Iowa -- Word around the stadium here is the total number of votes is just shy of 17,000, beating expectations and 2007's by about 3,000 votes.

The conventional wisdom is that would be good for Rep. Michele Bachmann, the campaign that had the most laser-like focus on the straw poll. And Ron Paul, who has an ardent following, would have benefited from a lower turnout.

Paul staffers tell NBC's Anthony Terrell they ran out of 4,000 T-shirts at 1:00 pm ET.

Herman Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael tells NBC's Ali Weinberg that they have no solid numbers on how many tickets were sold, but she said the campaign ran out late in the afternoon and had to get more.

She did have a number for another important Cain metric -- pizza. 3,000 slices were given away, she said. Cain is the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza. Another Cain aide said he gave away about 2,500 Cain brochures at the straw poll entrance. A volunteer said all shirts were given away, but Iowa state director Larry Tuel said they had been giving away those shirts on the tour all week. No estimate of what they started with.