U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky won Saturday’s Washington Times/CPAC-2015 presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, but it was the man he edged into second place who’s making the news.
Just six months ago, many Republicans wouldn’t have given second-place finisher Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker a second glance.
Walker’s strong showing was significant, especially since CPAC poll participants are mostly young and libertarian-leaning voters whose views are somewhat skewed from the mainstream.
Paul’s father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, was a frequent CPAC poll winner, but he was no more than an “also ran” in presidential primaries. This is the younger Paul’s third win.
Only three people who won the straw poll went on to take the GOP primary: Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.
As for the man from Wisconsin, this year’s straw poll finish marked a considerable improvement from just last year. The Christian Science Monitor reported:
Gov. Walker surged from sixth place in 2014 to second place this year, tripling his portion of the 3,007 votes spread among 17 candidates to 21.4 percent, not far behind Paul’s 25.7 percent. The margin between the two was even closer (less than one percentage point) when first and second choices were tallied.
The significance of Walker’s showing isn’t lost on his opposition. Twenty months ahead of the 2016 election, the Democratic National Committee is already sending out email blasts urging the party faithful to “stop Scott Walker,” according to The Weekly Standard.
The call to action comes in response to remarks Walker made at this weekend’s CPAC conference.
“I want a commander in chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists does not wash up on American soil,” Walker said during his address Thursday. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas came in third in the CPAC poll, while retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson came in fourth and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ranked fifth.
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