Rand Paul Wins CPAC Presidential Straw Poll

Saturday, 08 Mar 2014 07:21 PM

By Todd Beamon

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For the second straight year, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference's straw poll of 2016 Republican presidential candidates — finishing a full 20 points ahead of the No. 2 winner, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Paul won 31 percent of the votes cast by 2,459 registrants at the three-day conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. The announcement brought loud cheers from the conference's attendees.

Cruz took 11 percent of the vote. Both senators are in their first Senate terms and are backed by the tea party.

Urgent: Do You Support Rand Paul for President? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

Last year, Paul won 25 percent of the vote by some 2,900 registered CPAC attendees, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with 23 percent. This year, however, Rubio finished with 6 percent.

Cruz did not place in last year's straw poll. But in this year's poll, he was followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, with 9 percent, and by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with 8 percent.

Former GOP presidential candidate and Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tied with 7 percent each.

Tony Fabrizio, a GOP pollster and strategist who announced the results, said that 25 names were on this year's CPAC ballot. They ranged from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to former President Calvin Coolidge. Those finishing below Walker had garnered no more than 1 percent of the vote.

"Believe it or not, Calvin Coolidge is making a comeback," Fabrizio said to laughs from the audience.

None of the Republicans in the CPAC poll has formally entered the 2016 race. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the 2012 straw poll.

The voting occurred throughout the three-day CPAC event, which ended on Saturday. The conference is sponsored by the American Conservative Union.

In detailing the tally, Fabrizio noted that 1 in 2 voters were 18 to 25 years old. "CPAC continues to be dominated by young people," he said.

But a third of the votes cast were from registrants who were between 26 and 55 years old, while 20 percent were over 55, he said.

Regarding President Barack Obama's performance, "everyone disagrees with the job he is doing," Fabrizio said to cheers from the crowd. That compared with only 19 percent of CPAC voters disapproving of Obama's job in 2012, he said.

In addition, 51 percent of CPAC voters said they disapproved with the job Republicans were doing on Capitol Hill. "That is a number they need to pay attention to," Fabrizio said.

In 2013, there was a 10 percent favorable margin, he added, and voters were split in 2012.

Seventy-eight percent of the CPAC voters said that the federal budget should be balanced through spending cuts, while 18 percent said that it should be done by both raising taxes and cutting spending.

But that same number — 78 percent — said that they disapproved of the National Security Agency's mass surveillance of Americans' telephone and email communications "in the excuse of fighting terrorism," Fabrizio said.

In another straw poll Saturday, however, Cruz came out the winner. He was the GOP presidential pick for 42 percent of those surveyed in an online straw poll conducted by the Senate Conservatives Fund.

Paul followed with 17 percent, while Walker received 10 percent. Rubio was far down on the list — falling behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — finishing with less than 3 percent.

More than 41,000 online ballots were cast in the SCF survey.

"The results of the SCF presidential straw poll are unique because they reflect the views of a large group of conservatives across the country," Matt Hoskins, the group's executive director, said on Saturday. "Our poll shows that Ted Cruz is currently the conservative favorite for president in 2016."

Urgent: Do You Support Rand Paul for President? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

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