Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, edging out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) by two percent in the three days of voting.
Paul, with 25 percent of the vote, follows in the footsteps of his father, who won CPAC straw polls in 2010 and 2011. The ballots had 23 candidate choices and voters wrote in another 44 names, including Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.
Rubio had 23 percent.
Runners up were former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) with 8 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) with 7 percent, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) at 6 percent, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) at 5 percent, pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) with 4 percent each, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at 3 percent each.
The number of CPAC attendees voting was 2,930, down from 3,408 in 2012. Forty-one percent of the voters were students. Fifty-two percent of all voters were in the 18-25 age group.
Others receiving write-in votes were former Rep. Allen West, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Judge Andrew Napolitano.
Seventy-seven percent of voters ranked limited government as their top issue, with 15 percent picking traditional values as most important and 8 percent checking national security.
Last year President Obama received a 19 percent approval rating from CPAC voters, but that plummeted to 2 percent this year. Congressional Republicans had 54 percent job approval.
Even though a consistent theme of CPAC has been railing against candidates seemingly delivered to them by the political establishment, Mitt Romney won the straw poll in 2007, 2008, 2009 and in the critical 2012 election year.
On other issues, votes favored spending cuts only to rectify the budget deficit by a whopping 72 percent. Sequestration as it stands wasn’t too popular, though, as 68 percent favored targeted cuts that would be kinder to the military instead of the current across the board cuts.
Fifty percent felt America’s allies should take care of their own defense, while 34 percent thought the U.S. should keep up its role as superpower.
And seizing on the Paulibuster message, 86 percent oppose using drones to kill U.S. citizens and 70 percent oppose drone use to spy on citizens.