(CNN) - A few high-profile conservatives and potential White House hopefuls who weren't invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference nevertheless made it onto the ballot for the closely-watched 2016 presidential straw poll at the annual gathering.
While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell are notably absent from the speakers list, both appear on the 23-name ballot obtained by CNN for the next GOP presidential nomination. (McDonnell will still appear at CPAC on a panel but will not be a featured speaker.)
The straw poll is often considered a way to gauge where the conservative base stands on potential Republican nominees. Last year, when the conference took place in February, then-candidate Mitt Romney won the poll at a crucial point in the Republican primary. The former governor of Massachusetts took 38% of the vote, while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received 31%, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was at 15% and then-Texas Rep. Ron Paul stood at 12%.
In previous years, however, Paul was the winner of the poll. The libertarian-learning Republican came out on top in 2011 and 2010.
In 2009, months after the 2008 election, Romney took first place, with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal coming in second and Paul tying for third place with Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee.
READ MORE: Major conservative conference comes at crucial time for GOP
Other non-CPAC speakers on this year's ballot include New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who now heads Purdue University; Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a top surrogate for Romney's presidential campaign last year; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Also of note, freshman Sen. Ted Cruz, who rose to fame for his grassroots support in a heated Texas primary and run-off last year, made the list. Given that he was born in Canada with an American citizen mother and a Cuban father, his eligibility for president has been subject to debate.
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson interestingly appears on the poll–the only one on the list who hasn't been elected to public office. He generated buzz after he advocated conservative policies on taxes and health care right in front of President Obama while keynoting the national prayer breakfast last month.
- Carson will be a guest on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday starting at 9 a.m. ET.
Check out the rest of the list below:
1. NH Senator Kelly Ayotte
2. AZ Governor Jan Brewer
3. KS Governor Sam Brownback
4. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
5. NJ Governor Chris Christie
6. TX Senator Ted Cruz
7. Former IN Governor Mitch Daniels
8. SC Governor Nikki Haley
9. LA Governor Bobby Jindal
10. OH Governor John Kasich
11. NM Governor Susana Martinez
12. VA Governor Bob McDonnell
13. Former AK Governor Sarah Palin
14. KY Senator Rand Paul
15. IN Governor Mike Pence
16. TX Governor Rick Perry
17. OH Senator Rob Portman
18. FL Senator Marco Rubio
19. WI Congressman Paul Ryan
20. Former PA Senator Rick Santorum
21. SC Senator Tim Scott
22. SD Senator John Thune
23. WI Governor Scott Walker
24. Other _______________________