In a surprising result, Texas Rep. and 2008 presidential candidate Ron Paul (R) won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, capturing 31% of the vote. Three-time CPAC straw poll winner Mitt Romney (in '06, '07, and '08) finished second with 22%, followed by Sarah Palin with 7%, and Tim Pawlenty with 6%. When the announcement of Paul's victory was made, many in the crowd responded with "boos." That said, as people left the convention, "Ron Paul" chants could be heard coming from across the hotel lobby.
So what does Paul's win mean? Don't read anything into what this means for 2012 except that his supporters are still very enthusiastic, Tea Partiers like him for the most part, and Republicans need to somehow figure out how to channel that energy for their cause. But it's not clear that that's possible.
Dick Armey, chairman of conservative group FreedomWorks, told CQ, "Congressional Republicans should resist the urge to co-opt the [Tea Party's] momentum. 'They are barking up the wrong tree," he said. 'Every individual that I encounter in the grass-roots activist movement begins with, 'I'm my own man' or 'I'm my own woman.'"
By the way, another Paul -- GOP Congressman Paul Ryan -- ruled out a 2012 White House bid, but he says he's open to the VP nod. He told New York Times magazine: "There's no way I am running for president in 2012. My head is not that big, and my kids are too small."