ABC News’ David Chalian and Matt Loffman report:
The libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, came out on top in the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend winning 31 percent of the nearly 2400 votes cast.
The straw poll is entirely unscientific and not necessarily representative of the overall Republican electorate. In fact, if past is prologue, not much should be read into the results. Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., a once a likely future presidential contender, won the straw poll here for the last three years including in 2008 on the same day he dropped out of the presidential race.
Mitt Romney came in second with 22 percent of the vote followed by Sarah Palin at 7 percent and Tim Pawlenty at 6 percent.
The organizers of the straw poll included 11 names on the ballot. Other than the top four vote-getters, Governors Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, and Tim Pawlenty appeared on the ballot. Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum, and John Thune were among the other names listed.
And, of course, Sarah Palin’s name was on the ballot for the second year in a row despite her not showing up at the conference to rally the troops.
Nearly half of all those voting in the CPAC straw poll were students. Young people were a clear part of the activist energy fueling Ron Paul’s candidacy in 2008 too.
If Ron Paul decides to make another run for the White House in 2012, he will likely be as much of a longshot as he was in 2008.
Interestingly, 53 percent of CPAC attendees who participated in the straw poll said they were dissatisfied with their crop of possible 2012 contenders showing room for others in the conservative movement to consider a potential White House bid.
Here are the full results of the CPAC 2010 straw poll: