COMMENTARY | As the 2011 Conservative Political Acton Conference (CPAC) drew to a close Sunday, attendees participated in the straw poll vote of who they believe would be the best candidate for president. For the second year in a row, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) won. And he didn’t just win by a few votes, either, according to Fox News. The popular libertarian, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the presidency in 2008, defeated the second-place challenger by 7 percent of the 2011 CPAC straw poll vote, pulling in 30 percent.
The 2010 straw poll ended with the outspoken representative winning by an even larger margin (31 percent to 22) over the same contender, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Romney had a three-year winning streak going when Ron Paul ended it last year.
The 2011 CPAC straw poll was crowded with contenders, but seemingly not credible enough to vie for the Republican nomination for a White House bid. The third place finishers (a tie) were New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. But they only garnered 6 percent of the straw poll.
Another presidential hopeful, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, only managed a meager 5 percent.
Other names that have been mentioned as possible candidates for the 2012 election, like Michele Bachmann (R-MN), former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, and Indian governor Mitch Daniels, received an even more dismal four percent each.
Sarah Palin, once considered a rising force within the conservative ranks, came in ninth with 3 percent of the vote.
Palin’s CPAC backhanded apologist (for not attending the 2011 CPAC) Rick Santorum (former senator from Pennsylvania) pulled only 2 percent of the vote. Rising hopeful John Thune (R-SD) received same, as did former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and businessman Herman Cain.
Mississippi governor Hailey Barbour and former U. S. ambassador John Huntsman finished last with only 1 percent of the straw poll vote.
But many at the CPAC don’t think Paul is a credible presidential candidate. One CPAC official told Fox News that the story wasn’t that Ron Paul had won the straw poll again but how dominant Mitt Romney’s second-place finish had been.
Paul supporters were not to be denied their victory, however, as chants of “Ron Paul!” rang throughout the convention hall. Many conservatives began booing when Paul was announced the victor, but the Texan’s supporters quickly drowned them out.
It should be noted that placement in the straw poll at the CPAC does not necessarily forecast who will end up being the Republican candidate for president. In 2007, Sen. John McCain would finish fifth with 12 percent of the vote. His future running mate, Sarah Palin, had only been in office as governor of Alaska for a few months. That poll would see Mitt Romney’s first CPAC straw vote victory, pulling in 21 percent of the vote.
Saul Relative holds degrees in History and Secondary Education, and he taught school in West Virginia in the ’80s and Virginia during the ’90s. A student of politics and political movements, he began writing articles covering the political maneuverings of the Bush administration in 2004. Saul turned to writing full-time in 2008, dividing his time between reading and writing about politics and entertainment.