Former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney was announced the winner of the Conservative Political Action Conference 2007 presidential straw poll Saturday afternoon — a victory some say was “crucial” to his being taken seriously as a top-tier candidate.
Asked who would be their first choice to be the Republican nominee for President in 2008, 21% of registered conference attendees selected Romney.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani came in second with 17%, followed by Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback with 15%, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich with 14% and Arizona Sen. John McCain with 12%. All other candidates received 5% of the vote or less. McCain was the only top-five candidate who chose not to speak at CPAC, the largest annual gathering of political conservatives in the country.
The greatest number of ballots in CPAC history (1,705) was cast by registered conference attendees from 49 states and the District of Columbia.
Last year’s winner was then-Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen, who took 22% of the votes cast. Allen was defeated by Democrat Jim Webb last November and has since dropped out of politics.