March 8th, 2014
07:35 PM ET
9 months ago

Sen. Rand Paul convincingly wins CPAC presidential straw poll

(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul easily won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, giving the potential White House candidate an early boost with the Republican base ahead of the 2016 election.

It was the second-straight year the Kentucky lawmaker topped the poll at the annual gathering, notching 31% support.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was second with 11%, followed by conservative firebrand Ben Carson.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, never popular with many in the party's conservative base, was fourth with 8% support.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who for a time gave Mitt Romney a run for his money with conservative voters in the 2012 presidential race, rounded out the top six.

CPAC is the largest annual gathering of conservative leaders and activists and is a must-attend cattle call for GOP presidential hopefuls looking to pass the right-wing litmus test.

Polling indicates no real frontrunner among the potential GOP contenders so far. The next race for the White House officially doesn't get under way until after November's midterm election, and it's fair to say presidential surveys this early are often heavily influenced by name recognition.

Still, the straw poll was a strong sign for some and a troubling one for others.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, who finished second last year - just two points behind Paul at 23% - fell to a disappointing 6%. Texas Governor Rick Perry, who fired up the crowds Friday morning, received only three percent.

Though Cruz was a distant second, his 11% was up 4 points from his showing last year.

Sen. Paul said in a statement that he was grateful for the support, touching on his libertarian themes of individual rights and standing up for the Constitution.

"Thank you and onwards to victory," he said.

Paul, whose libertarian fight in the Senate is often met with a tepid response, spoke before an audience Friday that treated him like a rock star.

The son of former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the first-term senator is eager to expand his base and expand the GOP in general.

He's been aggressively trying to broaden the party by talking about the need to include not only libertarians, but even Democrats and minority voters that don't traditionally fall in the GOP column.

But he wasn't trying to hammer home that message on Friday. His remarks were mostly catered to firing up the conservative libertarian crowd.

Paul supporters could be seen at all corners of the conference this week, easily spotted by their "I Stand With Rand" stickers and signs.

With representatives from all 50 states, 2,459 people participated in the straw poll. As is usually the case, it was a very young voting group, with 46% of the voters between 18 and 25 years old, and overwhelmingly male, at 63%.

CNN's Steve Brusk, Conor Finnegan, Ashley Killough and Peter Hamby contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2016 • CPAC • Rand Paul
soundoff (238 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Is this third century dude vying for next generation president-karma, USA., karma. Very pathetic. Take Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin running mate?

    March 9, 2014 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  2. Tampa Tim

    Rick Perry received only 3% in the straw poll? Maybe he should threaten to secede from CPAC.

    March 9, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  3. Tampa Tim

    As nutty as CPAC is, you would think our Florida wingnut, Rubio, would have been right up there with
    Paul.

    March 9, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  4. apanda

    I like Paul. He's steady, solid and smart. He gets my vote.

    March 9, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  5. GODZILLA1

    This straw poll means nothing. Cruz will cruise in the primaries in 2016.

    March 9, 2014 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  6. yoshimoto

    Rand – hmm, it's possible, although his father did want to legalize heroin but I don't think Rand's rhetoric is that radical, Cruz- forget it, he tried to balance the budget by shutting the government down, Carson – here we go again with someone who has never run anything but now he wants to be president, Santorum is absolutely worthless and runs on religion and will never ever get the White House, Marco Rubio- why does his name even come up? he is a wet behind the ears kid who has never run anything- the only one who has a real shot is Christie – believe me, he will be conservative enough and you need a STRONG POPULAR LEADER to beat Hillary who will be the ultimate nightmare – Putin is not afraid of Obama, you think he will be afraid of Hillary who has NEVER RUN ANYTHING – Scott Walker would be good too...The GOP really needs a strong leader of the party to get the right candidate in there and not allow this endless rotation which just makes them all look bad and costs them all too much money in the primary...come on GOP, get your act together...this is why there is a junior community organizer in the White House right now...and plus Bush wrecked the economy

    March 9, 2014 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  7. so much for honesty

    Rand Paul winning again only show that the GOP has gone so far right the Libertarians are now the moderate wing of the party.

    March 9, 2014 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. Teamski

    Yep, Rand Paul wins the CPAC straw poll and will easily lose any presidential election.

    March 9, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  9. dave

    Paul ends up to be the most extreme of the extremist kooks. Still it seems the typical republican voter is more extreme than Paul, he's a liberal in their book, like Goldwater, Nixon, Bush, even VP Cheney, all liberals, by their standards. Watching some of the coverage, many republicans are advocates of extreme austerity, while others are wanting to adopt much of the democrat's positions, like on gays and drugs, moving more liberal. Debt seems to be a common issue, many of them not truly understanding the issue, having a special way to frame debt, from a right wing extremist pov, completely out of reality for what the debt really is.

    March 9, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  10. Stop wasting time

    He would never win a general election.

    March 9, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. Solomon Walker

    Paul is a bully. He's the opposite of Obama that uses the crime of omission as his greatest tool. Paul just stomps the head of his opponents.

    March 9, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  12. Marie MD

    Good, that means that rafaelito, the Canadian terrorist, can now go back to his country of birth Canada.
    Speaking of birth. Where are the birthers led by that other ignoramus trump? Is there really a difference between a person born in another country trying to be president? Right, Canada (white people) – - – Kenya not so much!
    The big difference IS that Hawaii is a US state, Canada is a country.
    I guess papito will have to go back to Cuba now to see if his messiah of a son can become dictator.

    March 9, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  13. Kit7kat

    Conservatives agenda has been marred by bad leadership. From Palin to Cruz to Paul, we have less informed leadership in Conservatism. I like the points of fiscal responsibility and personal accountability of conservative movement but I simply cannot accept their ignorance and attack on science and climate change.

    March 9, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. minuano72

    Here goes the GOP yet again...dancing a fringe crazy out there as the candidate. When will you learn?

    March 9, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. g

    the pied piper

    March 9, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  16. Serge Storms

    Out of this bunch, Walker seems to be the most substantial. Christie maybe but he's got to get past the bridge scandal. Most of the rest belong in the clown car.

    March 9, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. Porter

    If this is anywhere near the best we Republicans have, we may as well save our money and concede the next election.

    March 9, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. RandyF

    Hitler was too liberal for CPAC.

    March 9, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  19. don in albuquerque

    This is just hilarious. Rand in first place, and Cruz in second. Anyone wanna lay hard money on whether either one will ever see anything in the White House other then the mens room.

    March 9, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. Dave

    Republican politicians are Hillary's best advantage. Better luck in 2024. You are not getting the White House before then.

    March 9, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  21. carlin123

    There may be hope for this country yet.

    March 9, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Rand Paul wins the CPAC poll and America shrugs.

    March 9, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  23. Joseph Kerr

    So why do the tea party birthers reject Obama as being ineligible for the presidency but Ted Cruz, who is Canadian, is just fine to be president in their books? Oh, that's right, because they are hypocrites.

    March 9, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  24. Cindy

    Straw polls are really quite meaningless but it is a good indicator of which direction the Republican party may be heading. The more Obama goes to the left, the more Republicans will go to the right as they hate Obama's non-stop spending habits and super liberal policies.

    We have fewer actual tax payers than ever before and out of control spending. There has got to be some kind of balance somewhere in order to bring some sanity back in our economy.

    March 9, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  25. mike trottier

    I Will Not WASTE my vote on a teatard terrorist,......EVER!

    March 9, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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