Rand Paul's CPAC 2015 Win Cements Libertarian Leanings

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s third straw poll win yesterday at the Conservative Political Action Conference reinforces that the annual gathering is misnamed — it’s a libertarian-leaning event, not one that accurately represents the Republican party as a whole, political analysts say.

“It’s had, for the last eight, nine years, much more of a libertarian bent than what most people perceive it to be — the Super Bowl of conservative gatherings,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

Paul won this year’s CPAC straw poll with 26 percent of the votes while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was a close second, receiving 21 percent of the votes. Paul also won the CPAC straw poll in 2014 and 2013.

The three-day CPAC conference was held in suburban Washington and drew a large crowd of college students. O’Connell said the strong libertarian representation is due in large part to the overwhelmingly young attendees — nearly half of the 3,000 attendees who voted were 25 or younger.

“It’s going to naturally have a libertarian break based on the percentage that was openly in favor of marijuana legalization,” he said. “When you’ve got that many students, that’s going to be the case.”

Read more from Lindsay Kalter at the Boston Herald

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Analysis & Political Strategy