Senator Rand Paul won the 2015 straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Despite a strong challenge from fellow frontrunner Scott Walker, Paul managed to eke out a victory and win the headlines as the victor. The first and second place were only separated by five points.
- 1st place – Rand Paul
- 2nd place – Scott Walker
- 3rd place – Ted Cruz
- 4th place – Ben Carson
- 5th place – Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush
Senator Rand Paul wowed audiences by proposing what he described as the largest tax cut in American history. Paul promised a “a tax cut that will leave more money in the paychecks of every worker in America. My tax plan will keep the IRS out of your life and out the way of every job creator in America. My plan will also cut spending and balance the budget in just five years.”
Paul also called for a bill that would require enough time for members of congress to actually read legislation before it is passed. “Often, bills are plopped on our desk with only a few hours to review,” Paul said. “No one, and I mean no one, is able to read what is in the bill. I propose something truly outrageous: Congress should read every bill.”
Scott Walker gave a speech at CPAC, focusing on the US economy, and managed to rally a strong base of support. Walker generated controversy in his speech when he called compared labor activists to ISIS terrorists. “For years I’ve been concerned about that threat, not just abroad but here on American soil. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” he said.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush‘s supporters reportedly had supporters bussed into the conference in order to secure a higher vote count. Bush’s team was nervous over being seen as too establishment by a conservative base at CPAC that strongly identify with more grassroots tea party and libertarian ideals. Bush’s dismal results show that his supporter’s efforts were in vain.
The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin writes that Bush brought people in from Washington, D.C.: “Mr. Bush’s supporters organized caravans of his Washington backers to attend his speech, and they cheered whenever anyone else booed,” Martin wrote.
Those same bused in cheerers also will likely be expected by Bush’s campaign to vote for him in the famed straw poll.
Betsy Woodruff at the liberal outlet Slate also obtained emails that prove Bush’s team was busing in supporters from K Street.
“Emails provided to Slate show that backers of the former Florida governor are busing supporters from downtown Washington D.C. to CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland, and organizing to get them day passes into the event,” Woodruff wrote.
Over 3,000 people responded to the poll, a 20% increase in participation over 2014. Anyone who was a registrant at the conference was allowed to vote, either directly at the event, or electronically online.
A plurality of the respondents were ages 18-25, calling into question the standard tropes about young people not embracing conservative policies or ideas. A majority of the respondents opposed the blanket collection of metadata by the government for national security purposes.