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
Ron Paul always seems to do well in polls like this. He did very well in the first Iowa straw poll in the summer of 2007. I also once had a Libertarian friend of mine proclaim that Ron Paul actually won New Hampshire in 2008 in the Republican Party but had it taken by the "establishment".
These sorts of straw polls are great political theater but ultimately irrelevant. Mitt Romney was also a frequent winner here. John McCain didn't even show in 2007. The race for 2012 remains wide open and any poll at this point, straw or otherwise, is meaningless. Stilll, since he won, here's part of Paul's speech at CPAC.