The straw poll at the CPAC is always closely watched to see which Presidential wannabe (announced or othersie) has won conservatives’ hearts and if there’s a significance to the winner. But the poll hasn’t always been a (pardon the expression) tea leaf revealing the future. This year’s winner: Ron Paul. The significance: it underscores the strength of Tea Party movement support among conservatives.
It’s good news for Ron Paul (who few mainstream pundits believe is a serious contender for 2012) and bad news for Mitt Romney. Fox News:
Ron Paul has ended Mitt Romney’s three-year run as conservatives’ favorite for president, taking 31 percent of the vote in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual straw poll.
Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas known for his libertarian views, ran for president in 2008 but was never a serious contender for the GOP nomination.
Romney, former Massachusetts governor and also a 2008 GOP candidate, has won the last three presidential straw polls at the annual conference. This year, he came in second, with 22 percent.
Sarah Palin, who didn’t attend the conference, was a distant third in the straw poll, with 7 percent, followed by Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor, and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana.
The straw poll is not binding — and not necessarily a good forecaster, given that in 2008, John McCain went on to take the party’s nomination over Romney.
Raw Story notes that Ron Paul was like a rockstar to many at the meeting:
Did Ron Paul just launch his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012?
To anyone who watched any of the other Republican stars give their speeches at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, the difference between Paul and the rest was clearly one of enthusiasm and volume. Indeed, it seems objective to report that the libertarian-leaning doctor from Texas was greeted more like a rock star than a politician.
And, Politico notes, he was the only speaker at CPAC to completely fill the convention hall.
“Sounds to me like the revolution is alive and well!” he said, eliciting another volley of cheers. “Quite a few here! Ten thousand people, all interested in promoting good government, limited government and personal liberty!”
Paul’s Campaign for Liberty could be better described as one of the founding organization’s of what’s been more broadly termed the tea parties. While not yet a cohesive force in U.S. politics, many of those associated tend to be conservative leaning and much has been made among mainline Republicans to try and attract greater support therein. Paul even warned recently that “neocon influence” has begun to infiltrate the glut of tea parties. however, wants to engage liberals and progressives as well, who he’s cited as having similar qualms with the government.
Look for Paul to get a lot more press coverage now that he won this straw poll.