Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) won his third consecutive straw poll victory at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday.
But it was Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) who surged the most, coming in a close second with 21.4 percent behind Paul’s 25.7 percent among the field of 17 potential GOP contenders.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took third with 11.5 percent, followed by Dr. Ben Carson at 11.4 percent, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 8.3 percent. All of the other candidates pulled less than 5 percent.
The annual straw poll at the CPAC conference is hardly scientific, measuring hardcore activists and attendees. It has typically not been predicatave of the eventual nominee, especially so early out, but it does signal who is rising and who is dropping with the conservative base.
Paul, long the favorite of the libertarian-leaning event, thrilled conservatives on Thursday with a sermon-style speech on small-government and liberty.
“It’s time for a new president,” Paul declared, eliciting chants of “President Paul!” from the conference goers.
That chant erupted again inside the Potomac Ballroom at the Gaylord National Convention Center when news broke that Paul had won the straw poll for the third consecutive year.
“I am humbled by the enthusiastic support and encouragement I received this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference,” Paul said in a statement. “Our party is filled with constitutional conservatives who have chosen to stand with me for a third consecutive straw poll victory…I plan on doing my part and I hope you will join me as I continue to make the GOP a bigger, better and bolder party.”
The Kentucky senator is the perennial favorite at the grassroots conference, and he was well represented once again by young voters who traveled in from across the country to show support and an organization effort by his team.
More than 3,007 conference-goers voted in the poll.