The CPAC straw poll which was released today shows that the face of Republican conservatism has changed remarkably in the last year. Rand Paul, the libertarian Kentucky Senator won with 25% of the vote. Marco Rubio, Florida Senator, was the runner-up with 23% of the tallies. The GOP base is clearly looking for a new leader from those who were chosen in previous annual straw polls.
Both of these men are relative newbies to elective office. Obviously, that’s hardly a drawback (see Barack Obama), but the implication is that those who have been in the public eye for a long time have disappointed conservative activists. This vote gives both men some impetus in their presumed 2016 Presidential bids, providing evidence that they have some hold on the base. Other presumptive candidates also chose to have their names put up in nomination included Rick Santorum (8% of the votes), Chris Christie (7%), Paul Ryan (6%), and Scott Walker (5%). There were 58 other candidates on the ballot, who received a total of about a quarter of the vote among them.
Prior to 2005, CPAC only did the straw ballot contest during presidential election years. Since then, it has been conducted every year allowing us to see how candidates’ popularity change over time. For example, in 2005, the winner was Rudy Giuliani. The next year, the winner was the Republican who everyone believed would win the 08 nomination, George Allen. Then came macaca. Mitt Romney won in 07, 08, 09 and last year. Ron Paul won in 2010 and 2011.
Potential presidential candidates who floundered this year include Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who continues his run against all odds.