CPAC has traditionally been a conservative fest but in recent years has been overrun by Libertarians who were loyal to Ron Paul. This year was no different. In the traditional straw poll at the close of the event, there was the usual winner and some surprises.
1) Sen. Rand Paul
2) Gov. Scott Walker
3) Sen. Ted Cruz
4) Dr. Ben Carson
5) Former Gov. Jeb Bush
6) Former Sen. Rick Santorum
7) Sen. Marco Rubio
8) Donald Trump
9) Carly Fiorina
10) Gov. Chris Christie
11) Former Gov. Rick Perry
12) Gov. Bobby Jindal
13) Former Gov. Sarah Palin
14) Former Gov. Mike Huckabee
A couple of quick observations….
No surprise that Rand Paul came in first with 26 percent of the vote. For years now Libertarians have bussed in supporters to stuff the straw poll ballot box to get their guys, first Ron Paul and now his son, Rand, to appear at the top of the ballot. I still do not feel Rand Paul with his foreign policy beliefs is a serious contender for a general election.
Scott Walker, coming in a close second at 21 percent behind Paul, is riding a wave of popularity that played out at CPAC. Look for him to now be more under the microscope of scrutiny.
It was somewhat surprising to see Ted Cruz in third place with 11.5 percent of the vote instead of higher on this list. Perhaps his shine has tarnished a bit?
Ben Carson showing up right behind Ted Cruz with 11.4 percent was interesting since I would have thought Cruz would do better and Carson would show up further down the list.
Jeb Bush faced what most news sources called a hostile crowd and still pulled in a solid fifth place with 8 percent. He was willing to stand in front of his critics and answer question honestly in a venue that could make some pander to avoid the hecklers. He is who he is and will not bring a different face to each appearance.
In sixth and seventh places, with a tiny margin separating them, are Rick Santorum and Marco Rubio. I would have expected Rubio higher on the list, perhaps in Carson’s place, and Santorum probably lower, but Rubio fell out of favor with tea party conservatives several years ago. He will do better in Republican circles.
And what is this? Chris Christie and Rick Perry came in behind Donald Trump … what? Trump received 3.5 percent of the vote followed by Carly Fiorina (3 percent), Christie (2.8 percent), and Perry bottoming out at 1 percent.
About those boos and hecklers at CPAC, and the walk-out … everyone has the right to do what they feel is appropriate. My disappointment is that this type of behavior supposedly represents conservatives (CPAC is not a Republican event).
We go through the presidential process every four years. This is the season to learn about all the candidates because some voters are going to need to have their #2, #3, #4 choices lined up when primary season begins. The next year is going to be a rollercoaster….