Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC presidential straw poll, libertarians dominate on issues

For the second year in a row, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) presidential straw poll. The poll also found that libertarians are increasingly growing in influence.

Paul took 31% of the 2,459 votes cast, up from the 25% he earned in the 2013 iteration of the straw poll. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finished in a distant second place, with 11%. Dr. Ben Carson finished third, taking 9%.

“I am grateful to all the attendees who stood with me. The fight for liberty continues, and we must continue to stand up and say: We’re free and no one, no matter how well-intentioned, will take our freedoms from us. Together we will stand up for the Constitution. Together we will fight for what is right,” said Paul in a statement from RandPAC. “Thank you and onwards to victory.”

CPAC 2014 Presidential Straw Poll

Tony Frabrizio, who announced the results to CPAC attendees, explained that 46% of straw poll voters were between the ages of 18 and 25 and 18% were between 26 and 40.

Despite the heavy emphasis on social issues during Friday’s speeches, 78% of straw poll voters said that their “most important goal is to promote individual freedom by reducing the size and scope of government and its intrusion into individual citizens’ lives.”

An astonishingly small percentage of voters, 12%, indicated that social conservative positions represented their core beliefs and just 7% choose the national security and foreign policy statement.

Perhaps the most surprising part of the poll were attendees’ views of marijuana. A plurality, 41%, said that marijuana should be legalized for recreational and medical use, and 21% said it should be legalized for medical purposes. Thirty-one percent (31%) believe marijuana should remain illegal.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of straw poll voters opposed the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program. The question wording here wasn’t at all vague: “Do you favor or oppose the National Security Agency’s (NSA) use of data collection such as phone-tapping and reading of emails to combat global terrorism?”

Though congressional Republicans had enjoyed an above water approval rating in recent straw polls, that changed in 2014, with 51% of voters said they disapprove of Republicans’ job performance, while 48% approve.

The full results of the straw poll are available below.

This post has been updated with a quote from Sen. Paul and video of the straw poll announcement provided by CPAC.

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