Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Rand Paul calls for punishment if Congress can't reach a long-term budget deal MORE (R-Ky.) won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll on Saturday, an outcome largely expected by those in attendance, but one that will give him added legitimacy as he seeks to expand his appeal to compete on the national stage in 2016.

ADVERTISEMENT
In one of CPAC 2013's best-received speeches, Paul on Thursday told conservative activists that the Republican Party had grown "stale and moss covered" and said the GOP needs a more libertarian approach that makes freedom the movement's defining principle.

According to conference organizers, 25 percent of voters picked Paul as their choice for the next Republican presidential nominee. Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump must send Russia powerful message through tougher actions McCain, Coons immigration bill sparks Trump backlash Taking a strong stance to protect election integrity MORE (R-Fla.) came in a close second with 23 percent support. 


More from The Hill: CPAC 2013
• Amidst CPAC rhetoric, an effort to mend rift
• Cruz serves red meat to close CPAC
• Sarah Palin fires up conservative grassroots in speech at CPAC
• Bozell slams Republican establishment


All other finishers took less than 10 percent of the vote, with former GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum taking third with 8 percent.

John Brabender, a top aide to Santorum, said earlier in the week that the former senator wasn’t concerned with the poll. Rather, Brabender said Santorum spoke at the conference more to expand his advocacy organization, Patriot Voices.

Santorum finished second in the 2012 straw poll to Romney, an outcome that Brabender said was due primarily to Romney’s organizational efforts.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who was not invited to speak at CPAC, placed fourth in the 2013 straw poll with 7 percent support, followed by Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.) with 6 percent support.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) picked up 5 percent of the vote, while neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who criticized President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSasse statement: Trump nominee who spread conspiracy theories has a ‘tinfoil hat’ Coalition of 44 groups calls for passage of drug pricing bill For the sake of our democracy, politicians must stop bickering MORE (R-Texas) each received 4 percent of the vote. 

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R) received 3 percent apiece. 

The poll, conducted over the course of CPAC, included 2,930 participants and skewed heavily towards young attendees, with respondents between 18 and 25 years of age making up more than half of the vote.

Young voters helped propel Paul’s father, former GOP presidential contender Ron Paul (R-Texas), to national prominence, and make up a core of the libertarian party for which the younger Paul now carries the torch.

--This report was updated at 7:13 p.m.