Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll

March 16, 2013

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) has narrowly won the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, picking up where his father left off at the conservative confab.

Paul won 25 percent of the vote in a field of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders, clearing the support level of second-place finisher Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who took 23 percent. Former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) took 8 percent, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who was not invited to CPAC, took 7 percent.

The first-term senator's win was widely expected, especially given his father's past successes in the CPAC straw poll. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) regularly attracted huge crowds of devoted supporters at CPAC and won the straw poll in 2010 and 2011.

Mitt Romney won it last year, when Ron Paul did not attend the conference.

Rand Paul attained a new level of celebrity in the conservative movement after launching a nearly 13-hour filibuster against President Obama's drones program last week, and many speakers at the conference in suburban Washington held him up as an example of the future of the Republican Party.

But straw polls are being given less and less credence when it comes to determining Republicans' next presidential candidate -- specifically after Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) won the 2011 Iowa Straw Poll and proceeded to finish sixth in the state's caucuses. Top Iowa Republicans are now suggesting the once-all-important straw poll be shut down.

Here are the full results:

Paul -- 25

Rubio – 23

Santorum – 8

Christie – 7

Paul Ryan – 6

Scott Walker – 5

Ben Carson – 4

Ted Cruz – 4

Bobby Jindal – 3

Sarah Palin – 3

Other – 14

Undecided – 1

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | March 16, 2013