Saturday, 12 February 2011

Ron Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll

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Ron PaulAttendees of the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) engaged in a voluntary presidential straw poll that often serves to indicate the ebb and flow of the conservative movement. Last year’s results revealed a surprising change in trend as Texas Congressman Ron Paul won the vote, defeating (among others) former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who was CPAC’s reigning victor for three consecutive years. If you were an attendee or guest at this year’s conference, and thus were able to observe firsthand the enthusiastic support for Ron Paul among the attendees, it would come as no surprise to learn that Congressman Ron Paul once again won the CPAC straw vote.

Ballots for the CPAC straw poll were collected from Thursday morning through Friday afternoon. While only registrants could vote, all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia were represented in the vote.

Of this year’s poll, Tony Fabrizio of McClaughlin & Associates said, “This year shattered every single CPAC poll in history. There were on average four straw polls completed every single minute, with a total of 3,742 people of the nearly 11,000 participating. That is more than twice the amount of people who participated in 2007 and a 54 percent increase from last year.”

The list of potential 2012 presidential candidates appearing on the poll included Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, John Thune, Haley Barbour, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum. Voters were also permitted to indicate that they were undecided.

Attendees waited impatiently while the results of the straw poll were introduced. Audience members shouted at the introducers to “hurry up,” and others clapped to hurry the announcers along. When the final results were announced, the crowd broke out in pandemonium.

Ron Paul, who had run for President in 2008 as the "champion of the Constitution," won this year's CPAC straw poll with 30 percent of the vote, followed by Mitt Romney with 23 percent. The next closest choice was Gary Johnson at 6 percent.

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However, when voters were asked to make a first and second choice, Paul won with a combined 37 percent of the vote, trailed by Romney, who held a combined 31 percent of the vote. Johnson came in third with a combined 21 percent of the vote.

The presidential straw poll also asked voters if they were generally satisfied with the list of potential candidates. Fifty-six percent reported that they were, while 43 percent asserted that they would like to see better candidates in 2012.

Voters were asked about their core beliefs and ideologies and had the following choices:

  1. My most important goal is to promote individual freedom by reducing the size and scope of government and its intrusion into the lives of its citizens.
  2. My most important goal is to promote traditional values by protecting traditional marriage and protecting the life of the unborn.
  3. My most important goal is to secure and guarantee American safety at home and abroad regardless of the cost or size of government.

Eighty-four percent of voters provided the first answer, with 9 percent choosing the second and 6 percent opting for choice C.

Likewise, voters were asked to indicate the issues that mattered most to them, from the following list:

Illegal immigration, the war on terrorism, lowering taxes, improving education, reducing the size of the federal government, doing away with abortion, stimulating the economy to create jobs, protecting gun owner’s rights, the war in Iraq, reforming social security, reducing government spending, reforming healthcare, restoring honesty to government, protecting traditional marriage, and promoting traditional values. Fifty-three percent of voters selected reducing the size of federal government, 38 percent answered reducing government spending, and 16 percent chose lowering taxes.

As far as reducing the federal debt, voters were asked to choose among raising taxes, cutting spending, or both. Not surprisingly, the winner was cutting spending, with a vote of 82 percent, with just 1 percent of voters choosing “raising taxes.” Twelve percent of voters answered “both.”

Finally, voters were asked if they had faith that congressional Republicans would maintain their commitment to repeal ObamaCare, rein in federal spending, cut federal taxes, reduce government regulations, and pay down the debt. Less than half of those voting in this year’s poll believed that any of the promises made would be kept.  

ACU Chairman David Keene also announced that the Washington Times will be sponsoring future CPAC straw polls.

Of the winner of this year’s presidential poll, Jeff Frazee of Young Americans for Liberty asserts, “The conservative establishment better recognize where the energy is or our movement will quickly become politically irrelevant. The next generation of political activists want honest, principled leadership. No more RINOs.”

Whether Ron Paul will be seeking a presidential bid for 2012, however, is undetermined, though he has stated that CPAC’s success could tip the scales. “I haven’t decided yet, but if I were to come in fourth or fifth at CPAC, that might indicate that the young people have lost their enthusiasm.”

With results like these, Paul should feel encouraged to pursue another chance at the presidency.

Photo of Ron Paul: AP Images