(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
In what way has Rant Paul defended the civil liberties of Americans? First and foremost, falsely and recklessly accusing the President of wanting to use drones in America on Americans should result in Paul being sued for treason, abuse of power and a waste of taxpayers money. Secondly, his outrageous and irresponsible behavior should result in him being forced to step down and third he should be committed to a mental institution for life.
We noe know who not be the GOP nominee in 2016.
Democratic win in 2016.
Just say No to the American Taliban (GOP). We really don't need a theocracy in this country. The Middle East is a great example of the many reasons that theocracies are self-destructive.
Bring Paul on. Game over. Hillary in a landslide.
Same old GOP clown bus, the only difference is who is the driver for the day. It doesn't matter, they are on their way to the state of Oblivion, all singing their favorite song "Ignorance is a great thing!"
Please GOP, run Rand Paul in 2016. Will be fun to watch the entire electoral map turn blue.
Do the conservatives realize that Rand Paul is a libertarian? He is mainly opposed to wars. Most true Republicans are "hawks" and can't wait for the next action no matter what the costs. Also, with 65 million votes needed to win a national election, getting 25% of the 3000 votes really doesn't mean much.
Rand Paul will never be the president of US. CPAC is kidding itself if they want him to be their candidate.
This show exactly how mucch the GOP is willing to change: they choose a nut case for 2016. No one, but no one, in their right mind would accuse a President of use weapons against US citizens then waste taxpayer dollars on a senseless fillabuster on the issue. The GOP is negative, hateful and oveer ripe for the mad house.
Anyone who exposes our arrogant liar in chief has my vote.
I love watching a terrible political party implode!
Rand Paul is a Libertarian who wants to have the freedom to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to whom every he wants, without consequence.
That includes enjoying and using our nation's infrastructure without having to pay his fair share and denying a woman the right to choose what to do with her own body.
If Rand Paul is the Republican nominee, the Democrats could run a plank of wood in the 2016 election and win in a landslide.
How can any deny that they have lost their way when they applaud the bazaar antics of Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and others who are extreme without any answers and just offer hyped-upped criticisms aimed to excite. It is totally evident that they just don't understand when they cheer lines like this, from Ann Coulter: "If amnesty goes through, the country will turn into California and Republicans will never win again." ... which clearly admits they are scared because they don't have a clue how to reach or to do for the people. They are so use to depending on the abundant propaganda and the manipulative and deceptive efforts backed by the strong support of power, influence and mega-bucks from "the money" – like the Tea Party movement initiated, funded and guided by the Koch brothers – that when those things fail, they are simply lost for anything real to offer the people, the majority, the middle-class who they have consistently neglected and taken for granted as being "pawns" to be duped, used and abused. All of it is disgusting and offensive but also very informative.
Rand Paul wants to reform the tax code – great idea.
Rand Paul wants to reduce our military footprint around the world – great idea.
But, folks, the devil is in the details. Rand Paul's strategies result in a dog-eat-dog world, where the most vulnerable among us are left to fend for themselves, where there is no sense of national community.
I suggest he and his followers move to Somalia, where there is no pesky government to "infringe" on your rights or perhaps India, where there is no income tax to "steal" your "hard-earned" money.
As a staunch conservative I think Rand Paul is another kook like his dad and Sharon Angel. Can't the GOP find a good solid conservative? If not the liberal progressives will win every time.
Bwahahaha! Please nominate this clown as your 2016 candidate, GOP! You will lose in a landslide all the way down the ticket!
"It would be great to see a Rand-Cruz ticket in 2016. It would guarantee another win for the Dems."
Um, not sure that Cruz can run as VP. For sure he can't run for President as he was not born in this country. He was born in Candada, fortunately!! LOL.
The GOP is splitting apart like dessicated mud: you have your Ayn Rand afficondos, your religious right extremists, and the increasingly shrinking moderate (usually relatively "socially" liberal) fiscal conservatives.
These huge divides within the same party will make it increasingly difficult to rally a consistent voter base, especially when the demographics that comprise a few of the factions' voter bases are dying off in droves.
GOP needs to stop being idle, wake up and face the music: the only realistic solution is to dissolve into separate parties; ideally with the moderates throwing out the extreme right that has taken a stranglehold.
@Pete: "Let's get off your butts and think more about America and its citizens then who's going to lose to Hillary in 2016"
You see, Pete, Rand Paul his ilk DON'T think about America and her citizens; all they care about is money. To get our country really moving again, we need to invest here, and that is simply too much work, risk and cash for the likes of Rand Paul and the GOP.
They appeal to our patriotism, yet have no qualms shipping jobs overseas and doing everything they can to lower wages here, limit a citizen's right to legal recourse against companies, neglect infrastructure, turn Medicare into a voucher program, and reduce funding to education.
Paul and the GOP envision a dog-eat-dog world where only those lucky enough to be born into wealth get access to education, health care and opportunity, totally ignoring the FACT that what has made our country great is our commitment to these things for ALL, not just a select few.
Christie, or Jindal might, big on might, stand a chance---but instead they go with Larry, Curly, and Moe. Lessons not learned. Hillary is a shoe in. All she has to do is say its a go.
Too bad Democrats don't stand for anything any more, so all these comments are frivolous.
Guess we can safely assume Rand Paul isn't going to be the next President because he won this straw poll. After all, how many winners of this "charade" went on to become President.
Rand's dad consistently won republican straw poll but that didn't stop the rupublican political machine from knifing him in the back via voter fraud and charachter assassination for not toeing the party line.