By now, you’ve probably heard that Ron Paul won the straw poll at CPAC today, by a large percentage.
Here are the 2010 CPAC Straw Poll Results:
Ron Paul 31%
Mitt Romney 22%
Sarah Palin 7%
Tim Pawlenty 6%
Mike Pence 5%
Newt Gingrich 4%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Mitch Daniels 2%
John Thune 2%
Rick Santorum 2%
Haley Barbour 1%
Note that Gov. Romney came in second place, and was the only other possible candidate to get double digits.
Robert Costa interpreted the results, from the floor:
There may have been some boos, but Paul was by far one of the more popular speakers at CPAC this year. “End the Fed!” was one of most-heard chants and his “Campaign for Liberty” group was everywhere. Heck, a lot of the time, it seemed like they, not the American Conservative Union, was CPAC’s host. Even Ann Coulter, who drew a huge crowd herself, felt compelled to give a shout out to Paul-mania, saying she agreed with everything he stands for outside of foreign policy — a statement met with cheers.
Paul supporters were the most visible and vocal throughout CPAC — waving posters, signs, and passing out pamphlets. Unlike the 2012 wannabes, Paul doesn’t play coy: He has a manifesto and wants to broadcast it. Period. No worries about the media spin or whether the speech gets headlines (see Pawlenty, Tiger doctrine). And, instead of the usual anti-Obama talk, Paul framed a hefty chunk of his CPAC address upon a critique of Woodrow Wilson. And the crowd dug it.
Some older CPAC attendees don’t seem to care much for the Texas congressman, sure, but many young activists seem to regard him as a hero of sorts. When he talks about the debt, like he did on Friday, calling it a “monster” that will “eat up” our future, it was with a passion that you can’t fake in politics. He also didn’t mind challenging many of the room’s security hawks on foreign policy. “There is nothing wrong with being a conservative and having a conservative belief in foreign policy where we have a strong national defense and don’t go to war so carelessly,” Paul said. That line was met with a lot of silence, some nods, but, based on my conservations with activists afterward, strong respect from many for not simply pandering.
As Paul strolled through the lobby on Friday, slightly hunched and rail thin, cell phones galore lit up the Marriott Wardman Park. Students, a huge CPAC contingent, flocked. That should have been a sign to anyone looking to predict the straw poll. While Paul mingled with his acolytes, the big guns — Pawlenty, Romney — were often shrouded by aides or mingling backstage. Believe me: CPAC folks noticed. And now, thanks to the straw poll, for a moment, Paul’s opening line from his address is true: His “revolution is alive and well,” at least this weekend.