For the third year in a row, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has won the Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll, long considered an indication of who most conservatives’ prefer in the next election.
Paul received 26 percent while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came in second at 21 percent. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) came in third at 12 percent followed by Dr. Ben Carson in fourth at 11 percent.
In 2014, Paul won the straw poll with 31 percent followed by Cruz in a distant second at 11 percent. In 2013, Paul won the straw poll with 25 percent of the vote followed by Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who received 23 percent.
Coming in fifth place in this year’s straw poll was former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 8 percent. It was reported on Friday that Bush organizers were taking this year’s CPAC poll seriously, bussing in supporters.
Paul’s speech on Friday touched on libertarian themes popular with many of the young people, many college and even high school students, who flock to CPAC every year. More than half of the attendees at this year’s conference were under 25.
“Those who love liberty must rise to the occasion,” Paul said.
“When politicians accept censorship, when politicians accept imprisonment without trial, when politicians accept torture, even of the innocent, as necessary, the lovers of liberty must rise.”
This year’s marks the fifth CPAC straw poll victory by a member of the Paul family in recent years, with the senator’s father, former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Texas) winning in 2010 and 2011.
Disclosure: I co-authored Senator Rand Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington and served as his new media director.