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.