Ron Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll
Jonathan Martin and Jessica Taylor of Politico note that the reaction to the announcement was less than polite.
Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning Texas Republican who ran a quixotic bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, was the top vote-getter in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s straw poll, capturing the support of 31 percent of those who participated in the contest.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had won the CPAC straw poll for three consecutive years, took 22 percent of the vote. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin won 7 percent and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty 6 percent. Pawlenty attended the conference; Palin did not.
Paul’s victory renders a straw poll that was already lightly contested among the likely 2012 GOP hopefuls all but irrelevant as the 74-year-old Texan is unlikely to be a serious contender for his party’s nomination.
As the results were displayed on twin large screens in the ballroom — and even before Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio could announce who won — a cascade of boos came down from a crowd that views Paul and his fervent supporters as an irritant. Paul’s backers responded with cheers, though, when their candidate was then proclaimed by Fabrizio as the winner.
CPAC organizers were plainly embarrassed by the results, which could reduce the perceived impact of a contest that was once thought to offer a window into which White House hopefuls were favored by movement conservatives.
As I noted at the outset of the conference, straw polls in general and the CPAC straw poll in particular are meaningless. Sam Brownback beat out John McCain in the 2007 straw poll and Romney beat McCain in 2008. As some will recall, McCain nonetheless went on to secure the nomination.
In this case, we see that Ron Paul can get out a lot of students to a limited participation contest and so can Mitt Romney. From Sarah Palin’s poor finish, we can see that you’re unlikely to do well in the straw poll if you don’t bother to attend the conference.
As to the booing, I wouldn’t take much from that, either. It’s an energized gathering of activists — mostly very young ones — who are predisposed to disliking everyone but their personal favorite.