Tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul has won this year's CPAC straw poll, edging out fellow freshman Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
The vote was announced at the end of the Conservative Political Action Conference's three day event on Saturday.
Paul of Kentucky won the poll with 25 percent of the vote by some 2,900 registered CPAC attendees, followed by Florida's popular Rubio with 23 percent.
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“These candidates represent in different ways the future of the republican party,” observed Roman Buhler, a Republican activist from McLean, Va. “These are people who get people excited and that’s what this party needs.”
Earlier this month Paul said he was “seriously considering” a 2016 bid for the presidency following the success of his 13-hour filibuster speech in the Senate. His father, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, won the CPAC straw polls in 2010 and 2011, which is not surprising based on the presence of so many younger conservatives at the event.
Former Senator Rick Santorum received 8 percent of the vote, closely followed by N.J. Gov. Chris Christie with 7 percent and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan with 6 percent.
On Thursday Paul notably fired up the crowd of grassroots conservative activists at CPAC with his vocal support for limited government, free markets and protecting civil liberties.
Thirty-seven year old political consultant Telly Lovelace credited Paul’s organizational skills in winning the straw poll.
“Rand Paul had his people here. That’s how you win the straw poll,” said Lovelace of Washington, D.C.
Despite being chosen to deliver the keynote speech at last year’s Republican National Convention, Christie was snubbed by CPAC officials, who chose not to invite the popular governor.
Christie angered some fellow Republicans with his public praise of President Obama’s handling of Superstorm Sandy just days before the November election.
More than 60 names were either listed or written in for this year's straw poll, according to the American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC. The top two names received nearly 50 percent of the vote.
“We convened thousands of energized conservatives today at this 40th Annual National CPAC 2013 from across the entire country,” said ACU Chairman Al Cardenas. “It’s been a long-standing and fun tradition at CPAC National as well as our regional CPACs to poll the attendees and get their opinion on a number of important issues.”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the 2012 straw poll.
The results are intended to serve as a benchmark with respect to how conservatives perceive key issues and their preferred candidates heading into the next election. First held in 1976, only two of the poll's winners have gone on to become president.
The ACU has hosted CPAC in the Nation’s Capital since 1974. Next year's CPAC event will take place on March 6-8, 2014.
This year's Straw Poll was sponsored by The Washington Times and conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates
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