Ron Paul to Win CPAC Straw Poll Again!
Ron Paul is poised to win the CPAC Straw Poll. So what?
Libertarian Republican Ron Paul has mustered his forces to win the 2011 CPAC Straw Poll. Politico’s Ben Smith:
The Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual straw poll typically indicates three things: Whom CPAC’s segment of the conservative base prefers for president; who bought tickets for their supporters; and whether Ron Paul is really trying.
“It will tell the country a whole lot about the enthusiasm the young people have for liberty,” Paul said in a video exhorting his supporters to flood the conference.
Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, the a 501(c)4 organization he founded after ending his ’08 campaign, has in fact put together an extensive, and expensive, campaign for the conference. A source close to the conference said the Paul group bought 1,000 tickets to the conference, and a Paul aide told another Republican that they’d recruited at least 700 supporters to vote for him.
Bully for Ron Paul. But, at the end of the day, so what?
Wikipedia lists past winners of the CPAC Straw Poll:
1976 Ronald Reagan
1980 Ronald Reagan
1984 Ronald Reagan
1986 Jack Kemp
1987 Jack Kemp
1993 Jack Kemp
1995 Phil Gramm
1998 Steve Forbes
1999 Gary Bauer
2000 George W. Bush
2005 Rudy Giuliani
2006 George Allen
2007 Mitt Romney
2008 Mitt Romney
2009 Mitt Romney
2010 Ron Paul
I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the winners who went on to garner the Republican nomination for president the next cycle. In fairness, we haven’t yet picked the 2012 nominee, so Mitt Romney or Ron Paul could theoretically pull it off. But the enthusiastic youngsters at CPAC have picked guys like Jack Kemp, Phil Gramm, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, Rudy Giuliani, and George Allen who not only didn’t get the nomination but whose presidential campaigns were utter jokes.
Mitt Romney withdrew from the 2008 race the first day of that year’s CPAC, recognizing that John McCain was the inevitable winner of the 2008 Republican nomination. By this point, Iowa, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, Louisiana, Hawaii, Florida, and Maine had already voted — along with the 21 Super Tuesday states. Here’s how the CPAC Straw Poll came out:
Mitt Romney 35%
John McCain 34%
Mike Huckabee 12%
Ron Paul 12%
Yes, the plurality winner was a candidate who’d just dropped out of the race!
The bottom line is that the CPAC Straw Poll is neither a predictor of success nor even a meaningful springboard. I suppose it’s better to win it than not — who doesn’t like winning? — but it’s totally meaningless. Indeed, while I’ve attended seven out of the last eight CPACs, I’ve not bothered to participate in the straw poll a single time.