Rand Paul wins 2013 CPAC presidential straw poll
March 16th, 2013
05:41 PM ET
9 years ago

Rand Paul wins 2013 CPAC presidential straw poll

(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."

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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

Filed under: CPAC • Rand Paul
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. Len

    I love the G O P !!!!!!

    March 17, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  2. Pete

    So is Rand Paul flavor of the night and who's next weeks Santorum,Bachmann who??Hey Rand why don't you and your egotistical CPAC collective work on something in the line of jobs,infastructure and farm bills to get this economy working with Pres.Obama like when Pres.Clinton had it..And remember Rand even after Pres.Clinton raised taxes and created millions of jobs in the process he left a budget surplus something your partys presidents never seem to do..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 know I'm right because the polls say its so!!

    March 17, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel just called for an additional 14 interceptors to defend our west coast from a potential nuclear attack from NK. Are you going to go on another 13 hour tirade and demand that we have due process for Jung-un before we defend our sovereignty or impose harsher sanctions???

    March 17, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. Karl Jonas

    CPAC, let's see...

    MC: Ronald McTheDonald
    Keynote: Irrelevant Half-Term Quitter
    Poll Winner: Son of Paul...

    Uh huh.

    March 17, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. Dan O.

    If the GOP wants to stand even the slightest chance in 2016, they are gonna need to distance themselves from Mittens the 1%er, along with anyone whose last name is Bush. These people are toxic to the party and will lead to its downfall once again. Honestly, right now Rand Paul is the only beacon of light amongst this sea of turds we call the GOP.

    March 17, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Cam

    I stand with Rand. GOP get with the program or lose in 2016 like you did in 2012.

    March 17, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  7. John/kc

    Rand Paul has as much chance of winning the POCUS election as a snowball has in you know where.

    March 17, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. ytman

    But Rand Paul is not even a conservative :/

    He's a Libertarian in Wolf's Clothing. Rand Paul has even less of a chance to win than Marco Rubio. Rand Paul is ridiculously anti-US as a World Power and has economic beliefs that date back to the unregulated heydays of corruption in the early 20th century.

    He can not win a general election and the small fracture of the GOP embracing him is too young to realize this.

    March 17, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Tom

    It's a long way to 2016, so I wouldn't attach too much importance to this straw poll. But running someone like Rand Paul in 2016 could be exactly what the GOP needs. Republicans need another Barry Goldwater moment to realize how far off track the party has strayed. Maybe choosing a nominee who passes every possible conservative litmus test, and still gets trounced in a nationwide election, might cure the Republicans from concluding the reason they keep losing elections is because the candidates aren't conservative enough.

    March 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. Paul

    It would be great to see a Rand-Cruz ticket in 2016. It would guarantee another win for the Dems.

    March 17, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. lance

    Good news for Democrats, if this is the best the GOP can do. Paul will self-destruct under the spotlight of reality, especially when he tries to explain what "libertarianism" actually is-how many times can you say vapid words like "freedom!" ..."America!" .....er....."freedom!!"

    March 17, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. sayer

    Dear God, is this all the GOP has?

    March 17, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. Dallas

    Where do the republicans find these people. As a Texan, I apologize for subjecting America to the likes of Ted Cruz. He should be recalled immediately but unfortunately the Tea party is so strong in this state, that will never be a possibility. We pray for a viable and electable Democrat to come forward ASAP and bring our state back to reality.

    March 17, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. Anonymous

    "He can not win a general election and the small fracture of the GOP embracing him is too young to realize this."

    Word on CPAC street is they think he's "hot". A regular Sarah Palin in drag. Neither one of them have a principle to stand on. Both are quitters. Both are out for what they can get. Both are only interested in feeding their over pampered ego.

    March 17, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  15. Joe Former Repubican

    Reason for Independents and Democrats to cheer. Another GOP "whack job" on line for 2016 and another "nail in the coffin" for what used to be a viable national party. Who's going to be the VEEP, Santorum? This is a script even a Hollywood comic couldn't write.

    March 17, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  16. Murf

    Dear GOP,

    Please, please, please follow CPAC's lead and nominate Rand Paul to be your 2016 nominee for Prez.


    A Democrat looking forward to extending the run another four years.

    March 17, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  17. Awesome

    Rand Paul. Awesome. The GOP will never get it. Dems keep celebrating and smiling. You will hold the oval office for decades with the characters the GOP puts forth. It's incredible.

    March 17, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. California Grandma

    nothing new or interesting here. same old same old same old same old tired GOP bull crap.

    March 17, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. nothing new here

    Even though I agree with Rand Paul on defending the basic civil liberties of Americans....
    I just think it is a big, BIG mistake for Libertarians trying to run under the moniker of "GOP".
    Because steadfast Libertarians do not conform to the religious tenets of the GOP, nor do Libertarians endorse endless wars, and endless harassment of American citizens.
    The Libertarian movement is growing, not the GOP and their anti-rhetoric. It may be time for Libertarians to leave the GOP, and consider starting their own party, or just raise money and votes independently. That would take a lot of leverage away from the financially corrupt.

    March 17, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. nothing new here


    Where do the republicans find these people. As a Texan, I apologize for subjecting America to the likes of Ted Cruz. He should be recalled immediately but unfortunately the Tea party is so strong in this state, that will never be a possibility. We pray for a viable and electable Democrat to come forward ASAP and bring our state back to reality.
    Texas is a state that is projected to go "purple" in the next decade. I know some Republican associates that live in Texas, that are starting to cringe at the extremism of the current GOP.

    March 17, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. Bmerbob

    The one guy that may give them a chance in 16 doesn't get invited because he praised the Obama administration for the actions after a storm that devastated part of his state. Not that I'm a fan or would necessarily vote for him, but it appears he would have the widest appeal among the general voting public, across the party line. But they don;t invite him because it's un-Republican to thank someone other than a Republican for helping out. Now there's a reasonable, logical intelligence laden party for you.

    March 17, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  22. gwill55

    The GOP needs to attract minority vote and the CPAC favors a guy who has no minority support. GOP needs to cut ties with this group of out of touch extremist.

    March 17, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  23. Anonymous

    "Even though I agree with Rand Paul on defending the basic civil liberties of Americans...."

    Rand Paul is NOT defending the basic civil liberties of Americans.
    To the contrary, Rand Paul is defending the basic civil liberties against Americans.
    He and his ilk are defending the corporate-owned liberties.
    You folks really need to understand the difference.

    March 17, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @ nothing new here

    Rant Paul doesn't know what civil liberty stands for even if it hits him in the face. To Rant Paul and the GOPT, defending THEIR civil liberties means falsely and recklessly accusing President Obama of wanting to use drones in America on Americans. First of all, this guy needs to see a psychiatrist. Secondly, he should be sued for going on a 13 hr tirade, accusing the President of wanting to drone on Americans. Third, he should be forced to step down and fourth he should be committed to a mental institution.

    So what does defending civil liberties mean to Rant Paul and the GOPT? It means voter suppression; it means redistricting municipalities so that they get more of their people in office. It means stripping women of their basic rights, it means discriminating against Gays and Lesbians and Muslim-Americans. It means stripping the middle class of their collective bargaining rights and pensions and the poor of their safety so that they can continue more tax breaks for the rich. It means sending our troops off to war without a clear and stated purpose for going off to war. It means turning their backs on our Veterans when they come back from war. It means outsourcing our jobs and ignoring the needs of Americans and neglecting our infrastructure. It means squandering surpluses and continuing tax breaks for the rich and yes,it means privatizing medicaid and social security and continuing more reckless deal on Wall Street, it means price fixing of generic and prescription drugs and ripping off seniors and the American consumers and it means neglecting 47% of the American people.

    March 17, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. jb1963

    Less than 3k in votes? They are losing people every year. The few clips I heard showed no solutions only attacks on the president. Vague answers and empty promises is all they have and yet it still wins the uninformed middle of the country. People who don't even realize that the republican party has only one goal and it is to destroy the people that vote for them.

    March 17, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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