Ron Paul sat out this year’s CPAC. In past years, Paul has stacked the deck with his faithful and won the CPAC beauty contest. So, the results were always perceived as somewhat tainted. Of course, when it comes to organizing the base, you must give Ron Paul an A+, but I believe even the supporters of the Paul movement would have to admit that the results have been skewed by Paul subsidized attendees.
This year was different. Ron Paul was not there, but he had a good number of supporters. Just not in the numbers previously seen.
So, did CPAC 2012, a gathering of the most Conservative activists in the country really vote for a New England Moderate this year? Does that somehow make Romney conservative?
Well, yes and no.
The past two years, I have attended CPAC as a Blogger, as I did in 2012. In 2010 and 2011, the Straw Poll voting booth area was located just outside of the Exhibition Center where everyone had to walk by in order to walk through the numerous booths and displays. You walk by, fill out a ballot and they punch your credentials, so only one vote per person.
But not this year.
The Straw Poll was tucked away in a location where you had to actually be looking for it to find it. It was not in the middle of a high traffic area for all to stumble across.
Now, I have no idea why they put it there this year and I am sure there was no nefarious plot behind the stealthily situated voting area at the end of a hallway few had reason to venture into, but it was.
So, I asked for directions from one of the volunteers and set out to cast my vote after I got situated in the Blogger’s Lounge on Saturday morning. Now I had planned to vote earlier, but like I said, the polling place was not where it normally was, and I had to set out on my Straw Poll voting quest as a “must do” item.
Well, I found the cranny and popped into the very short queue. The volunteer at the door asked for my Stray Poll Ticket.
“My what? Where do you get a ticket?”
“The ticket is in the little red bag you got at check-in,” she replied.
“I was not given a bag,” I replied.
At which point she looked down at my credentials and noticed that they were of the yellow “media” variety.
“Oh, Media are not allowed to vote this year,” she noted.
Hummm. Well, Ok.
So I walked back to the Bloggers Lounge and listened to bloggers talking about what a sell out Ann Coulter was for being a Romney stooge and how she used to be Conservative. And I recalled the excitement and shouts of “yes” when Rick Santorum spoke, and the number of shouts of “boring” when Mitt Romney spoke. And the snarky comments when Newt Gingrich was speaking, though some liked a bit of Newt’s speech.
But the overwhelming consensus on Blogger’s Row was for Rick Santorum. And Mitt Romney was pretty much universally considered a squish.
And it was odd that I am not able to find the raw numbers, only the percentages in the CPAC 2012 Straw Poll. Mitt – 38%, Santorum – 31%, Newt – 15% and Paul – 12%.
But no raw vote totals. Not sure what is up with that, but I did find that the number of people voting was down from previous years to 3,408. Not surprising it was down without the Ron Paul seedlings and the GoProud issue (perhaps the subject of another post), but I think the hidden location of the voting area was a big factor. But at least I can do the math to get an idea of the raw votes.
So, the breakdown was:
Mitt – 1295 (38%)
Rick – 1056 (31%)
Newt - 511 (15%)
Paul - 409 (12%)
So, Mitt Romney won by 239 votes over Rick Santorum. My vote would have made it a bit better for Santorum. And I would have to think that if the Bloggers were allowed to vote – and around 500 applied for Blogger credentials (but I have no idea how many were approved) – and most of the Bloggers are very Conservative and NOT Mitt Romney fans – Santorum might have been much closer.
And while it is a win for Team Romney, I wouldn’t interpret it as an endorsement by Conservatives. There is still a lot of searching going on for someone better than Romney.
While Romney got 38% of the vote, the true winner was Ron Newtorum who got 62%. That is the favorite candidate of the CPAC 2012 Conservatives.