In a vote that makes almost irrelevant what otherwise should be a strong indicator of where the potential Republican presidential candidates stand in advance of 2012, Congressman Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll in results announced Saturday evening.
Paul, who ran for president in 2008 with the support of libertarians but who failed to gain much support among Republican and conservative voters, was the subject of rumors throughout the Conservative political conference that he was paying students to attend the conference and vote in it.
Paul ultimately received 30 percent of the vote, with 2008 Republican presidential candidate and former Governor Mitt Romney placing second with 23 percent. Romney was the subject of anothspeculation he was paying students to attend the event and vote for him in it.
The other potential candidates on the ballot all received about 6 percent of the vote in the CPAC-sponsored straw poll with pro-abortion former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson getting 6 percent, pro-life New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie getting 6 percent as well, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gathering 5 percent, and pro-life Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, pro-life Governor Mitch Daniels and pro-life Rep. Michelle Bachmann getting 4 percent.
Sarah Palin only received the support of 3 percent of CPAC attendees, and Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum only received two percent support apiece, as was the case with John Thune and Herman Cain. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Utah Governor John Huntsman only received 1 percent each.
The combined first and second choices of CPAC straw poll voters were: Paul 37%, Romney 31% Johnson 21%, Christie 16%, Gingrich 11%, Bachmann 10%, Pawlenty 9%.
The conservative event featured a few thousands activists from across the country — with a good portion comprising fiscal issue conservatives and libertarians as opposed to the social conservatives and single issue pro-life voters that make up a large portion of the Republican electorate.
Abortion the 6th most important issue to conservatives out of 16 given issues, beating immigration, education, 2nd amendment, Iraq, traditional marriage and reducing health care costs.
Romney won previous years’ straw polls before Paul broke the string in 2009. The results showed more people participated this year than last year or in previous years.
The straw poll also found 84 percent of CPAC attendees said fiscal issues were the main issue they cared about entering into the 2012 elections.