by Sam Stein
Hat tip: Huffington Post
In a strong reflection of just how strong his standing remains within the die-hard conservative community, Texas Republican and 2008 presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll on Saturday, earning nearly one-third (31 percent) of the entire vote. The crowd, however, booed heavily when the results were announced.
Paul was far and away the most widely anticipated speaker at the three-day conference, with his base of “Paulites” streaming into the main auditorium to hear him rail against government overreach and neoconservativism on Friday afternoon. In many respects, his win in the CPAC poll seemed pre-ordained — his band of followers having a well-earned reputation for flooding polls and forums like these.
What it portends for a possible 2012 presidential run is anyone’s guess. Paul had a similar cult-like following during the 2008 election, only to garner a relatively small chunk of the actual vote.
The other potential candidates who scored well and are more “mainstream” picks for the Republican nomination include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who earned 22 percent of the vote, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who came in third with seven percent. Romney had won the last three CPAC polls. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, another talked about 2012 aspirant, tied “undecided” for fourth place at six percent.