Locks up conservative activist vote.
(Reuters / http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00tX1QQ8YE7jq/1000x.jpg)
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the winner of the Conservative Political Action Conference Straw Poll, The Washington Times reports.
The poll provides an indication of where the party’s base is — and it is solidifying behind Mitt Romney.
Romney won the Straw Poll with 38 percent of the 3,408 votes cast. Rick Santorum followed with 31 percent, Newt Gingrich with 15 percent, and Ron Paul with 12 percent.
In a separate national poll of conservatives, Romney took 27 percent of self-identified conservatives, just ahead of Santorum’s 25 percent.
The Washington Times, the poll's sponsor, notes that Romney's total is the highest since then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush won the straw poll in 2000 with 42 percent of the vote.
The move reverses a week of bad news for the Romney campaign as Santorum has surged nation-wide.
Despite running a shoestring campaign, Santorum has managed to deal significant blows to front-runner Mitt Romney’s push to secure the Republican presidential nomination.
Santorum managed to win the Iowa Caucuses in January despite being out-raised by Romney 25-1 in the final quarter of 2011, and swept three races last week in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. (None of those races directly awarded any delegates to the Republican National Convention.)
Santorum’s campaign says he has raised over $3 million since his Tuesday victories, though Romney still maintains a large fundraising and organization advantage.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, was the favorite for the Republican vice-presidential ticket, with 34 percent of CPAC attendees selecting him. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came in second with 9 percent of the vote.