(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday. Paul won with 25% of the vote and finished slightly ahead of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. In third place was former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Nearly 3,000 votes were cast by attendees at the three-day conference held at a hotel just outside of Washington. The straw poll is considered one way to gauge where the conservative base stands on potential Republican nominees. The ballot included 23 Republicans with a national political profile as well as spots for write-ins and "undecided."
Former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice and 43 others - including former president Richard Nixon, who died in 1994 - received at least one write-in vote.
Another potential presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, asked not to be on the ballot. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who received 7%, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, were on the ballot but were not invited to speak on the main stage.
Paul earned himself a serving of goodwill from conservatives after he stood for nearly 13 hours on the Senate floor, filibustering and demanding the Obama administration answer his question about the government's authority to use drone strikes against American citizens on U.S. soil.
His father, former GOP congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, won the straw poll in 2011 and 2010.
Rounding out the top 10 vote-getters were Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 5%, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 4%, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal at 4%, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin - the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate - with 3%.
Dr. Benjamin Carson, a neurosurgeon who became a political figure after speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast last month, had a speaking slot at CPAC and garnered 4% of the vote.
Only 1% reported they were undecided.
Fewer votes were cast than in 2012 and 2011, as the presidential campaign drove interest in politics. In 2011, over 3,700 ballots were cast and last year, there were 3,400 votes.
Eventual Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the straw poll last year. Poll organizers released percentages but not the actual number of votes candidates received.
– CNN's Steve Brusk and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report
Are they trying to see how easy they can make it for Democrats to win again or something?
The Republican Party has become the American Taliban. They believe that requiring employers who provide health insurance to include all legal medical services and medications is an offense to an employer's religious beliefs. Employers are not required to take any offending medication or service. Government is not imposing religious beliefs on employers but some employers belief they should have the right to impose their religious beliefs on some of their employees – women, of course. How "Taliban" is that!? Employers must either provide health insurance that serves all employees or pay a penalty.
The Grand Old Party's right wing has not yet learned its lesson!
Completely useless information.
Good, Rand Paul is the only Republican that wants to cut anything. God forbid we phase out social security, give medicare to the state, cut defense department in half, and abolish all the regulatory agencies that caused the last recession, including the federal reserve
Oh please please please GOP go with Paul. He is so in touch with what America needs. He is God's gift, to the Democrats. The clown show in the GOP continues and it could not happen to a more deserving bunch.
Go Rand. And Ted Cruz. And Ben Carson!
Rand Paul runs, and the U.S. automatically gains another eight years of democratic administration: just think it through, please. Does the word "unelectable" resonate?
Leadership: Rand Paul on Libya in response to POTUS on the eve of the intervention way back in 2011.
How right he turned out to be! President Obama and his GOP enablers Rubio, McCain, Graham, et al? Well if Islamist run government an overrun embassy and ambassador murdered is where you think America should go....
Notice the constitutional themes that supported Rand Paul's filibuster are presaged in the Libya response and how hewing to the Constitution too would have saved us from the mess in Libya.
LMAO!!!! Looks like another easy win for the Democrats!
Oh boy, another eight years of democratic adminstration looming. Does the word "unelectable" resonate at all?
This signals another eight years of a democratic administration.
The real conservative winners are those who did not attend this circus.
Rand Paul? The GOP is doomed. Laughing Out Loud!
So what?Does that make him head clown in a room of idiots ?Just goes to show you what mess the republicans are in.
I do not think any viables at this juncture.
he will never be like his father
Winning the CPAC presidential straw poll is the equivalent of winning a pitcher of warm spit.
Stand with Rand.
This is great news! The more the Repubs marginalize themselves, hemore they're going to get stomped again in 2016.
Wow! Did I hear somebody Calling the President Of our Great Nation a Liar and a Thief! I can't comprehend that theattendees applauded and worst the media is quietly accepting it. I am no Democrat nor Republican, but American. I resent it! Do you?
The top three are all too extreme to be electable. Santorum is a joke. You might get independents from the center like me to vote for Chris Christie.
Richard Nixon? Is he still alive in the land of right-wing delusion?
Whoopee freakin do!
This almost certainly guarantees another reasonable Democrat in the White House in 2016.