(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
he won the straw poll because he wears it on his head....hehehehe
No breakout candidates because the mediocre and unispiring field had nothing new to offer. This is NOT the way to reinvent the party to meet the challenge of a changing demographics.
PUH-LEEEEASE nominate this whack job for POTUS. When will the people that continue to swallow the force fed garbage from the RW realize what a bunch of nut jobs they are supporting!?
The Republicans learned nothing from the last election.
America will never elect a Libertarian president. Paul is further right than Republicans on most issues and further left than Democrats on the rest. He's extreme.
The Republican idea of a new direction is the son of the guy who has been around forever. That or Richard Nixon.
I guess being conservative really does mean that you don't try new things. The GOP needs to change if they expect to win the next or any future election.
He looks so cool in his blazer, jeans and cowboy boots. Mitt the Twit won this last year so it's not like the bar is set very high.
He's too short to be president of the USA!
As Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".
Same crazys. Same results. Hilary 2016. Thanks You will never learn.
None of those republicans stand a snow balls chance of being elected as POCUS. Rand Paul only got 25% of the conservative vote.
Oh please made Rand the 2016 nominee. lol
I'm glad Rand Paul won. He's just the man the GOP needs ... for the Dems to win in 2016.
Having read this I here by declare it meaningless.
That's wonderful news! It ensures another 8 years of a Democrat as President!
Still almost 4 yers away and they are off already with a really whacky list of so called top 3 hoever another 3 very strong reasons in 2014 to vote for anything other than a GOP CPAC attendant!!
Now if he could only explain why it it is that as a libertarian, he thinks abortion should be a states' rights issue instead of an individual's rights issue.
Being a Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower Republican since 1970, I am frankly not impressed with any CPAC potential candidate rating – This, and other so-called Republican groups appear to have embraced a southern democrat attitude toward Government and are discracefully divorced from the Republicanism that Lincoln started.
Good lord... We just finished the last election. Is this all the politicians CAN do? Just continuously tun for office? No wonder nothing is getting done in Congress. Their actual jobs are not their priorities.
Why CPAC is irrelevant:
Only 2 of the winners of the straw polls taken at the 19 CPAC's since 1976 have gone on to become president. Ronald Reagan won the 1st three straw polls in 1976, 1980 and 1984 and George W. Bush won in 2000. Only one other, Mitt Romney, even received his party's nomination. All of the others failed to make it out of the party primaries.
CPAC is irrelevant and the straw poll too. Trained marmots would do a better job of predicting presidents.
Let's see – we just gone done with teh last election and we are already worried about the next one in 2016? There is a lot of time here folks to be worrying about this.....
Marriage is a civil right + gender discrimination is illegal regarding civil rights violating equal protection = gays win all court cases.
This means nothing three years out from the 2016 campaign season. Its just name recognition. I'm not saying anything against Senator Paul, just that people have not had time to hear all the messages and to really think about who would be best as the candidate.
The GOP better get a game plan together unless they want Hillary for the next eight years. Every day many older white people (as I am slowly getting to be) die off and many young people are eligible to vote. What is the GOP message to a 20 year old male, two years out of out of high school, a minimum wage ob and with the military as his only option?
He's not going to respond to "we kept taxes low for the super-rich". He wants to hear that he has a future. Can you match what Hillary is going to tell him? Young women and minorities will be an even harder sell but you have to make that sale if you want to get back into the game!
A wonderful picture of the man who would be king. Would be, is the key word. The title of king comes along if the American people, are dumb enough to allow it to happen.