CPAC Straw-Poll Winners Don’t Always Become GOP Nominees

The annual poll is not a reliable predictor of who goes on to capture the Republican presidential nomination.

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Libby Isenstein
Feb. 27, 2015, 12:02 a.m.

The win­ner of the an­nu­al Con­ser­vat­ive Polit­ic­al Ac­tion Con­fer­ence straw poll usu­ally ends up draw­ing the shortest straw. But in CPAC’s 41-year his­tory, only three poll win­ners have gone on to be­come Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ees.

CPAC has re­cor­ded res­ults for only 20 polls in that time (the out­comes of the oth­ers, if they happened, have been lost to his­tory, ac­cord­ing to a CPAC spokes­man). But a 4-in-20 suc­cess rate shows that the straw polls are usu­ally not a re­li­able pre­dict­or of who will nab the GOP nom­in­a­tion. Pres­id­en­tial hope­fuls who did cap­ture it—Ron­ald Re­agan, George W. Bush, and Mitt Rom­ney—did so after tri­umph­ing in CPAC polls dur­ing elec­tion years. So for a more com­pel­ling pre­dic­tion of the next con­ser­vat­ive can­did­ate for the White House, let’s wait for the 2016 straw poll.

Cor­rec­tion: An earli­er ver­sion of this story’s text mis­stated the suc­cess rate for CPAC on-re­cord straw polls in pre­dict­ing pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates. It’s 4-in-20.

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