Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll; Rubio close second

by Domenico Montanaro, NBCNews.com  |  published on March 17, 2013

rand paul

CPAC stands with Rand.

“Torch of liberty” scion Rand Paul was the choice of the plurality of conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference, as Paul won the much-hyped straw poll with 25 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was a close second with 23 percent.

It shouldn’t be surprising that the Kentucky senator won the straw poll. This was not a weekend of self-reflection for conservatives. It was one of standing by principles, and no one more represents standing by principles than Paul.

Paul last week further endeared himself to conservatives by going through with a 13-hour filibuster – a modern-day record – of President Barack Obama’s nomination to be chief of central intelligence. That effort by the Tea Party favorite prompted Twitter hash tags, signs at CPAC, and even fundraising emails from the National Republican Senatorial Committee by the name of Stand With Rand.

Additionally, with 23 people on the CPAC straw-poll ballot, Paul benefitted from the deepest support for a single candidate because of young Libertarians, many of whom make up CPAC’s audience. In fact, a majority — 52 percent — of voters were between the ages of 18 to 25, according to Republican Tony Fabrizio, who analyzed the results for CPAC and made the official announcement Saturday.

CPAC has always attracted college-age activists, but this is an even higher number than in past years, according to Fabrizio.

Paul supporters have demonstrated strong organizational skills around straw polls over the last several years, as they helped Paul’s father, ex-Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, win the 2010 and 2011 CPAC straw polls.

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