Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney edged rival Rick Santorum to notch a win in the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday.
Romney took the straw poll with 38 percent of the vote to Santorum’s 31 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was third with 15 percent, followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 12 percent.
It’s a notable victory for the Romney camp and one that comes after a tough week that saw Santorum win three Republican contests. At the very least, holding off the former Pennsylvania senator in the straw poll helps the Romney camp beat back the narrative that their candidate still hasn’t won over the most conservative elements of his party.
Paul’s fourth-place finish, meanwhile, comes after two straight years of dominating the straw poll at CPAC. But this year, Paul skipped CPAC and his campaign didn’t spend any real energy organizing supporters for the straw poll.
A total of 3,408 attendees voted in this year’s straw poll—the second highest turnout in straw poll history, according to pollster Tony Fabrizio. This year, CPAC attendees were also able to vote via smartphone and iPad for the first time.
Fabrizio and The Washington Times also conducted a separate national poll of self-identified conservatives for the first time to pair with the CPAC straw poll results. In that poll, Romney topped Santorum 27 percent to 25 percent. Gingrich was third with 20 percent.