By a narrow margin, now-withdrawn candidate Mitt Romney was the overall winner of the 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll. The overall results, announced Saturday afternoon, showed Romney taking 35% of the 1,558 polls cast, with Sen. John McCain coming in a very close second with 34%.
Ballots were collected from Thursday morning through Friday afternoon. Romney suspended his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination Thursday around 1 pm. Poll questions were surveyed in separate batches — before and after Romney ended his campaign — as well as overall.
Only 24% of the straw poll surveys were answered before Romney announced his decision to suspend his campaign. About 76% of the poll responses were submitted after Romney’s announcement.
CPAC attendees answered the question, “If the election were held today to decide for the Republican nominee for President in 2008 for whom would you vote?” Before Romney’s withdrawal 44% chose Romney, 27% McCain, 12% Mike Huckabee, and 10% Ron Paul.
After Romney dropped out, 32% of attendees voted for Romney and 37% for McCain.
On McCain alone:
Attendees were also asked the question, “If John McCain is the Republican nominee for President which of the following will you personally do on election day?”
Pre Romney dropout, 14% said that they would not vote. Post Romney drop 10% said they would not vote.
Sixty-two percent said they would vote for McCain pre Romney drop, post Romney drop 70% said that they would vote for him.
Between McCain or Huckabee and the Democrats:
Attendees were asked, “If John McCain or Mike Huckabee is the Republican nominee for President which of the following will you personally do on election day.
11% said that if either McCain or Huckabee were the nominee, they would not vote.
68% said that they would vote for McCain and 20% said that they would vote for someone else.
For Huckabee 61% said that they would vote for him and 25% said they would vote for someone else
CPAC is the largest annual gathering of political conservatives in the country, Romney won the straw poll last year with 21%, McCain — the only top candidate who chose not to speak at CPAC — came in last with 12%.
See the complete straw poll results at CPAC.org.