It was a big night for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney took first place in the CPAC straw poll, a win that was shocking enough to even be a bit suspicious. Romney took 38 percent of the nearly 3500 participants but not without aggressively wooing conservative voters with stories of his “severe” conservatism. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum came in second with 31 percent of the vote followed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich with 15 percent.
But the big story to come out of the CPAC poll was the collapse of the Ron Paul Revolution. Paul finished last this year after winning the CPAC straw poll in both the past two years. This year Paul ignored the convention and the crowd was also not on Paul’s side, reportedly cheering Democratic strategist Paul Begala when he said Paul had authored racist newsletters.
Not only did Paul not get the CPAC love, he didn’t manage to pull off a win in the Maine caucus either, coming in second behind Romney. Paul played the second place finish up as a win, but you have to wonder what the Paul campaign is thinking now.
The Santorum camp has to be happy with new poll numbers showing Santorum taking the lead in the nomination fight for the first time ever. And figures that Romney would finally make some headway with conservatives right as the numbers show Santorum will end up being the culture warrior’s candidate. Do the Republicans have anything that looks like cohesion right now? Assuming Romney is the nominee his running-mate will have to be red meat for conservatives. Santorum might be an obvious nod but don’t count Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann out just yet either.
The race now turns to Michigan and Arizona who both have contests on Feb. 28th. Plenty of time to keep up the war on birth control.
Photo from gage skidmore via flickr.