The Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll results have been announced, and the winner is last year's winner: Rand Paul, with 31 percent of the vote. Ted Cruz came in second, with 11 percent. Ben Carson and Chris Christie placed third and fourth, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Senate Conservatives Fund released its own straw poll results just before CPAC, and Cruz was the decisive winner, with 42 percent of the vote. Paul was a distant second, with 17 percent. SCF says over 41,000 votes were cast. Nearly 2,500 votes were cast in the CPAC poll.
There were 25 names on CPAC ballot (27 including a write-in and "other"), including Paul, Cruz, Christie, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.
Forty-six percent of the voters were between the ages of 18 and 25, down from last year, when it was 52. Sixty-three percent of voters were male, down from the 66 percent last year. CPAC has been aggressively courting the women's vote, with Michele Bachmann noting in a speech today that "we are the party, the only party, that had a woman on the presidential ticket this century."
(Bachmann had to use those qualifiers because the Democrats had a female vice presidential candidate in the last century: Geraldine Ferraro, 1984. Also, this century is all of 14 years and four presidential campaigns old. And finally, I'm going to assume Bachmann means "only party" out of just the Democrats and Republicans, as several woman have run for president and vice-president on smaller party tickets.)
It should be noted that the straw poll is not necessarily a barometer of who will be the Republican candidate for president, let alone who will win. Since 1976, only Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have won the straw poll and the presidency. Mitt Romney holds the record with most wins, with four. He is not our president. Rand's father, Ron, won the poll in 2010 and 2011.
CPAC ends tonight with a speech from Palin, who managed to get 2 percent of the straw poll vote. That's more than Trump, who did not get enough votes to register. Palin did much better in the Fox News Insider straw poll, placing second with 34 percent of the vote to Rand Paul's 43.