Ron Paul wins CPAC straw poll

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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A fired up crowd of young conservatives said Ron Paul is their man this afternoon, as the Texas congressman and former 2008 presidential candidate won the annual CPAC straw poll with 31 percent of the vote.

But not all were happy with the results: Paul’s victory elicited a series of boos from the packed convention floor that drowned out the applause from those in attendance. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, however, received loud applause when his second place finish of 22 percent was announced.

It was the first time in four years that Romney did not win the contest. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the only woman listed in the poll, received 7 percent of the vote.

Others in the poll were Tim Pawlenty, 6 percent; Mike Pence,  5 percent; Newt Gingrich, 4 percent; Mike Huckabee, 4 percent. Mitch Daniels, 2 percent. Rick Santorum, 2 percent; John Thune, 2 percent; Haley Barbour, 1 percent.

About half of them spoke at the conference, including Romney, Pawlenty, Pence, Paul and Gingrich. Neither Huckabee nor Palin attended the conference.

Fifty-four percent of those who participated in the poll were between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.

Andrew Ragone, a 21-year-old college student at the Rochester Institute of Technology, said he voted for Paul because “he’s a straight forward politician” who “represents hope for the Republican Party.” Even though the poll was for Republican candidate for president, Ragone said he’d still vote for Paul if he ran under another ticket.

But 53 percent of those polled said they wish the Republican Party had a better field of potential candidates.

Those polled were also asked their top three important issues, and 53 percent named reducing the size of government as either their first or second choice. In a sign that social issues are far from being at the core of the conservative movement today, stopping gay marriage received only 1 percent of the vote.

One candidate that was not included in the poll was South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who was spotted walking the hallways of the convention Saturday afternoon.

Ballots for the poll, which finished with a total of 2,395 votes, were collected from Thursday morning through Friday afternoon. The convention, which began on Thursday, brought in over 10,000 activists, convention spokesman Brent Littlefield said.