Scott Walker Won Second at CPAC. Who Won First?

Rand Paul won the CPAC straw poll for the third straight year in a row. Does that matter?

rand ron paul

I wasn’t following the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. I noticed that a few people were going to it, but I didn’t keep track of its activities.

Then I started seeing all these posts about how great Scott Walker performed in the straw poll for who should be the Republican nominee for the Presidency.

It was almost as if people think that Scott Walker’s second place showing proves he should be the next Republican Presidential candidate.

That made me wonder who won first place. Whom did a majority of the responders say they wanted as President?

You probably know the answer: Rand Paul won for the third year in a row!

[See also, “The New Republic Is Afraid of Rand Paul.”]

But somehow Scott Walker is the man to take seriously.

This Associated Press story shows us some of the spin:

The three-day CPAC conference in suburban Washington draws many libertarian-leaning college students whose views and priorities differ significantly from the Republican Party at large. But it is nonetheless seen as a barometer of certain conservative activists’ early leanings.

Pollsters said just over 3,000 attendees voted. Nearly half identified as between the ages of 18 and 25.

Respondents said economic issues, like jobs and taxes, were most important to them in deciding whom to support as the Republican nominee for president in 2016.

First of all, time out of mind the media have accused the Republicans of losing the youth vote, of losing millennials, of needing to speak to the rising generation.

So why shouldn’t winning a poll with a group of young people be considered an asset rather than a weakness? Like his father, Rand Paul may win over younger voters.

Scott Walker has a lot going for him, and I don’t begrudge any conservative who favors him right now. I just object to the way the media is portraying him as if he somehow won the poll by coming in second to Paul.

I have to agree with a couple of observations from James Antle at Rare.Us:

Paul also narrowly beat Walker when first and second choices were combined, 42 percent to 40 percent. That shows Paul was the second choice for many voters beyond his own libertarian base, which is critical to building on his father’s performance.

Were Paul’s supporters more organized? Sure. But that’s precisely what unscientific straw polls measure: organizational strength and grassroots enthusiasm.

Support your favorite conservative candidate, but don’t be misled or manipulated by media reporting.

And, in the meantime, we can all rejoice that Jeb Bush failed so badly in the poll!