As Jesse Walker notes, Rep. Ron Paul won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual D.C.-based hoohah that was in the news this year mostly due to boycotts by folks discomfited by the presence of teh gays. The other hardcore libertarian in the field, former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-N.M.), finished third (and ahead of other folks such as former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour).
So that means…that CPAC doesn't mean anything. Got that? Surveying the results and the conference in general, the Wash Post's right-wing blogger Jennifer Rubin concludes that CPAC tells us that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) and Sen. Jon Thune (R-S.D.) "exceeded expectations" and that "there is, in fact, a rationale for a run by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton" and that, should Bolton choose not to run (is anyone asking?), then his kind words for Pawlenty mean that the Gopher State guy is in the catbird seat.
Rubin's Post colleague Chris Cillizza dubs Paul the big "loser" at CPAC, because he speechified about "defunding" the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and made "odd pronouncements such as 'Government should never be able to do anything you can't do.'" The big winner? Mitt Romney, in part due "to a strong second-place finish in the straw poll." Hot Air's Ed Morrissey similarly pooh-poohs the results though he at least notes that the libertarian vote "actually got split this year, and wound up taking two out of three spots on the straw poll anyway."
You'd think that Ron Paul having a big showing for the second year in a row, in the wake of a couple of best-selling books and a midterm election whose star was Paul fils (whose politics didn't fall far from the tree) and stories about CPAC leaning increasingly libertarian over the past few years might kindle some vague interest about an, I don't know, Libertarian Moment or something.
Like all such things, CPAC's straw poll is a useless predictor of who will actually get the nod. But to the extent that it reflects the energy and motivation of the crowd at what gets called the big conservative event when the results fit into an MSM narrative, it strongly suggests that the GOP would do well to go libertarian as it figures out how to move forward into a 21st century they managed to screw up the last time they were in power.
Watch this video from CPAC: