Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) members voted overwhelmingly in favor of Ron Paul on Saturday in its annual presidential straw poll.
Paul received 31 percent of the votes from participants who indicated that “reducing the size of federal government” was their top priority.
The Daily Beast reported that more than 10,000 people attended the event, and 2,395 of them voted in the straw poll.
Here is how the top five candidates performed:
31 percent - U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas
22 percent – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
7 percent – Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
6 percent – Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
5 percent - Indiana Rep. Mike Pence
Politico reported that Paul’s win embarrassed CPAC organizers, who believe Paul is “unlikely to be a serious contender for his party’s nomination.”
Fox News tried to discredit the poll, saying it was “not necessarily a good forecaster.” It cited the example that Mitt Romney won the poll in 2008, but John McCain went on to win the election. Jake Gibson, Fox News micro-blogger for Live Shots, called Paul’s win “surprising” and wrote that it “spurred audible gasps and boos in the room.”
Other news outlets praised Paul’s win as proof that he will be a serious contender in the 2012 Presidential Election. The National Review’s Robert Costa wrote that Paul was “by far one of the most popular speakers at CPAC this year.”
“Some older CPAC attendees don’t seem to care much for the Texas congressman, sure, but many young activists seem to regard him as a hero of sorts,” he wrote. “When he talks about the debt, like he did on Friday, calling it a ‘monster’ that will ‘eat up’ our future, it was with a passion that you can’t fake in politics. He also didn’t mind challenging many of the room’s security hawks on foreign policy.”
Ron Paul ran for President in 2008 as the only Republican candidate to call for a withdraw from Iraq. His supporters had accused Fox News and other news outlets of downplaying his candidacy and not giving him a fair chance.
“All the sudden, the crash that I had been predicting all along: it came,” Paul told his supporters the day before the poll’s results. “And now, Fox News TV has had me on about 60 times since the campaign was over.”