Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday, capping an event where he delivered a speech specifically — or, “severely” — tailored toward attempting to prove his conservative credentials.
Romney won 38 percent. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) came in second with 31 percent of the vote. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich scored 15 percent of the vote.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who won the last two CPAC straw polls but skipped this year’s conference, got 12 percent of the vote.
Conference attendees picked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as their favorite pick for vice president, followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Eighty-three percent of the 4,800 straw poll voters were under the age of 55, compared to 41 percent of conservatives nationwide falling into the age group.
Noting their priorities in picking a candidate, voters showed strong preference for those who they saw as sharing their values. National security and protecting the homeland were ranked last.
Straw poll voters also pegged a candidate’s stances on the issues as more important than his ability to beat President Obama in November.
Straw poll voting was conducted online for the first time, opening at 9 a.m. on Thursday and closing at 1 p.m. today. The candidates spoke to the conference on Friday.
CPAC voters also showed much stronger job approval for members of Congress than their conservative counterparts nationwide.
Romney also won the CPAC straw poll in 2008, but dropped out the GOP nomination race during the conference.