Romney wins CPAC straw poll

An old conservative favorite came out on top at the conference, while attendees were more than a little skeptical of President Obama.

Published March 2, 2009 3:00PM (EST)

It's too bad former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has shown no interest whatsoever in a second run at the presidency, because the people who attended the recent Conservative Political Action Conference would love to see him try again in 2012.

Romney -- who, in case you missed the earlier sarcasm, has actually given every possible sign that he will be running again -- came out the winner of a straw poll conducted at CPAC, with the support of 20 percent of respondents. Despite the hits he took for his nationally televised speech last week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal came in second with 14 percent of attendees saying they'd vote for him to be the Republican nominee in 2012. Hot on his heels were Texas Rep. Ron Paul (the conference, and the straw poll, was dominated by students, probably explaining that result) and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, both of whom got 13 percent of the vote. And just behind them was something of a dark horse candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who's been eyeing a comeback.

The bad news for Romney? While 55 percent of respondents said they were happy with the potential field for 2012, 44 percent said they weren't, so some of his supporters might be swayed towards a new entrant at some point down the line.

Some other not especially surprising results from the straw poll: Only four percent of people at CPAC approve of the job President Obama is doing, and only one percent said they "strongly approve." Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress got 70 percent approval, though only 17 percent of respondents said they "strongly approve" of what they're doing.

For more on CPAC, see Thomas Schaller's article on the conference -- and especially radio host Rush Limbaugh's keynote speech -- elsewhere on Salon today.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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