The CPAC straw poll reveals true conservative views

The CPAC straw poll saw 2659 votes cast, with 80% voting for candidates other than Trump.


NATIONAL HARBOR, MD., March 5, 2016—CPAC 2016 is one for the history books—and not just the conference itself but the legendary straw poll as well.

This time Rand Paul, who has dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination, is not the winner. The winner is Ted Cruz, who had the attendees on their feet yesterday afternoon.

The results that everyone cares about were:

  • Cruz   40%
  • Rubio  30%
  • Trump  15%
  • Kasich  8%
  • Carson  2%

And a few votes for others, including 1 for Hillary Clinton. As the media were not allowed to vote, it was that vote was a joke.

There were a total of 2659 votes cast and the average age of voters was 35. When they were announcing the results, Chairman Matt Schlapp asked first-time attendees to stand and there was a very high percentage of the audience who stood—and they were mostly college-age.

The poll also asked who the voter’s second choice would be. This was very telling: Rubio 29% and Cruz 26%. If you put them together, it was:

  • Cruz     66%
  • Rubio    59%

In other words, in the eyes of these attendees, Cruz and Rubio were the conservatives in the race and all the others were far behind.

If it were up to these conservative activists, the United States will get its first Cuban-American president in 2016—although both candidates would reject the hyphenated label.

The poll is about issues as well as candidates. The seven questions were:

What type of conservative are you?

  • 66% Reagan
  • 28% Libertarian
  • 6% Populist

What is the most important issue for you in this election? (pick one)

  • 49% economic issues
  • 26% national security
  • 13% honesty
  • 11% social and cultural issues
  • 2% unsure

What issues, if held by a candidate, are deal-breakers? (multiple choices possible)

  • 38% expanding Medicaid
  • 36% eminent domain
  • 33% pathway to citizenship
  • 17% price controls for drugs
  • 15% substituting a VAT instead of an income tax

Are Republicans in Congress doing a good job fighting for us?

  • 20% good job
  • 72% not fighting

How should we reduce healthcare costs?

  • 3% increase regulations
  • 93% private sector solutions
  • 4% unsure

What should Congress do with patent rights?

  • 5%  weaken
  • 82% strengthen
  • 13% unsure

What should Republicans do about Obama’s Supreme Court nominee?

  • 82% hold no hearing/block a vote
  • 12% break with leadership/force a vote
  • 6% unsure

One could make lots of inferences from the answers to these questions. There are remarkable levels of agreement on most of the issues, with an incredible 93% consensus on free market solutions for healthcare.

If there are fissures in the Republican party, it’s not among conservatives. Conservatives leave CPAC 2016 united on principle but not yet united behind one conservative candidate. When that consensus comes, however, it is bound to be on style rather substance and it will be either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.

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