Romney Wins Straw Poll at Less Circus-y CPAC

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 11 2012 5:09 PM

Romney Wins Straw Poll at Less Circus-y CPAC

At last year's CPAC, the sad task of announcing a Ron Paul straw poll win was handled gingerly. Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio mentioned that the result would be unscientific. So did outgoing American Conservative Union chairman David Keene.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Not this year! "We've gotten so many questions about our straw poll!" said ACU Chairman Al Cardenas, running his first CPAC. After a long build-up by pollster Tony Fabrizio, a consultant newly liberated from the S.S. Rick Perry, we learned that the CPAC crowd had voted this way:

Advertisement

Mitt Romney - 38%
Rick Santorm - 31%
Newt Gingrich 15%
Ron Paul - 12%

The reaction was mixed.

 

Why didn't Ron Paul win for the third year running? Easy: Paul didn't try. The campaign opted not to rent a booth, and bought no tickets for supporters. Neither did Paul's 501(c)3, the Campaign for Liberty. Young Americans for Liberty, Paul's youth group -- which in the past has packed rooms of 400, 500 people to hear Paul or allies speak -- was nowhere at all.

Why did Romney win? There wasn't much visible support for the candidate at CPAC. Earlier in the day, I'd watched a group of Santorum supporters mock a sad, lone Romney supporter for trying to pass out stickers for a "pro-choice" candidate. But the old trope that "signs don't vote" has a convention corallary: The candidate with the hardcores in the lobby doesn't always win. I asked the Romney campaign if it had purchased tickets, or shipped supporters in, a move that would have contravened its previous pledge not to do straw polls. What did they do to win? The answer: "Gave a great speech."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Uh-Oh. The World’s Oceans Have Broken Their All-Time Heat Record.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

The NFL Should Lose Its Tax-Exempt Status, Which It Never Should Have Had Anyway

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.