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Rand Paul Wins 2015 CPAC Straw Poll

The conservative-vs.-establishment race gets underway.
Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, arrives to speak during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. The 42nd annual CPAC, which runs until Feb. 28, features most of the potential Republican candidates for president, from Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina to Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, arrives to speak during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. The 42nd annual CPAC, which runs until Feb. 28, features most of the potential Republican candidates for president, from Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina to Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer

For the third consecutive year, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul grabbed a victory in the Conservative Political Action Committee's presidential straw poll. Paul won 25.7 percent of the 3,007 votes cast, down slightly from 2014, when 2,459 total attendees gave him 31 percent of the vote. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who placed fifth in 2014's poll, floated to a strong second place– 21.4 percent–continuing a run of successes with conservative activists that started last month at the Iowa Freedom Summit.

The days of potential presidential candidates barreling into CPAC with full campaigns, buying up blocks of tickets for straw-poll voters, are largely past. Paul, Walker, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz all had street teams of various sizes; Paul was supported by Young Americans for Liberty, Carson by an unofficial draft presidential campaign. But Santorum, Walker, and Paul focused more on barnstorming events in the conference hotel than on making an obvious show of support on the convention floor. (Though anyone walking into the CPAC rooms when Carson, Santorum, or Cruz spoke was greeted by friendly volunteers bearing campaign or PAC stickers.)