The CPAC straw poll is in, and the winner is Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the doctor of the rEVOLution (he's got the cure you're thinkin' of!).
From the Wash Post's coverage:
Texas Rep. Ron Paul won the 2010 CPAC straw poll tonight, a victory that will further energize his already enthusiastic supporters but will have little effect on the coming presidential contest.
Paul, who ran for president in 2008, took 31 percent of the vote. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had won the past three CPAC straw polls but placed second this time with 22 percent. Romney is considered the current frontrunner for the 2012 nod.
No other candidate scored in double digits. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who did not speak at CPAC, took third place with seven percent...
Be careful not to read too much -- or much at all -- into these results. Paul's supporters are loyal and loud but not, ultimately, that large a group as proven by the fact that he did not win a single primary or caucus in 2008.
2010 CPAC Straw Poll Results
Ron Paul 31%
Mitt Romney 22%
Sarah Palin 7%
Tim Pawlenty 6%
Mike Pence 5%
Newt Gingrich 4%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Mitch Daniels 2%
John Thune 2%
Rick Santorum 2%
Haley Barbour 1%
And let us be clear: Any poll that shows any number of votes for Haley Barbour, Rick Santorum, or John Thune for el presidente or le gant de baseball de chien (full disclosure: that's Babel Fish's translation of "dog catcher" compounded with my Jethro Clampett level of French) is not to be taken seriously.
Still, if the GOP is interested in actually doing something more glorious than its multi-year FUBAR when George W. Bush and the Republicans were fully in charge of the federal government, they'd do well to listen very closely to Dr. No. However rotten Obama and the Dems poll, the GOP should never think anyone believes them when they say they are the party of small government and, for god's sake, we're well past the sad-sack culture-war days of various Republican geniuses like Newt Gingrich (4 percent!) talk up flag-burning amendments (the First Amendment is not a suicide pact with square pieces of cloth made in China!)and English-only rules (because, seriously, how can you be a real American if you don't speak the mother tongue of Great Britain?). Ron Paul pulled well in the Republicans primaries and among the youth of America precisely because he offered something distinct from the sad sacks he was running against.