Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), in a surprise victory, took first in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll.
Paul didn't just win, he crushed the field of Republican White House contenders. Mitt Romney--who has an affinity for winning straw polls (he set up an unparalleled, cash-infused get-out-the-vote operation to win the Iowa straw poll in 2007)--came in
a close second, after delivering one of the conference's big-time speeches on Friday.
2,395 attendees entered responses, more than ever before according to GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio. Here are the top results, as presented by Fabrizio: Ron Paul, 31 percent; Mitt Romney,
27 22 percent; Sarah Palin, 7 percent; Tim Pawlenty, 6 percent; Mike Pence, 5 percent; Mike Huckabee, 4 percent. Others collected fewer votes.
When Fabrizio displayed the results on-screen before thousands of conservatives in the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel's capacious ballroom during his PowerPoint presentation, the audience was noticeably surprised, and many boos were heard along with the cheering as Paul was announced as the winner. When Fabrizio said that Romney had come in second, more cheering ensued.