Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll, and what really surprises me, frankly, is that so many people are surprised.
In December 2007, later in the cycle than we are now, Paul won the straw poll at the Virginia GOP Advance in Alexandria. There was a roughly similar bifuracted reaction: it was the mst important thing in politics; it was insignificant. There was, however, one factor both sides missed then – and they missed it again now.
As I noted back then (emphasis in original) . . .
. . . the poll was held in northern Virginia. While northern Virginia is hardly a Republican bastion these days, a number of the conservative movement groups have their national headquarters here, including organizations most likely to have Ron Paul supporters in their midst . . . To find 200 people in this political grouping who support Paul would be a lot easier than most people realize, but more to the point, for all of them – whatever their number – this was a local event. It is quite possible that a straw poll in Richmond, Hampton Roads, or Roanoke might have had a different result.
The fact is this: the folks most likely to Ron Paul backers are political activists working to battle overarching government up close – and in the suburbs of the nation’s capital, they’re plentiful. Certainly not enough to sway a local election, but easily enough to sway a straw poll in their back yard. It was true then; it is true now.
At the December 2007 straw poll, John McCain was in single digits.