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DALLAS – Veteran Republican pollster Jim McLaughlin calls the straw poll ballot at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) “the ultimate barometer of what’s going on in the conservative movement.”
McLaughlin and Associates, which conducted polling for former President Donald Trump’s successful 2016 election and unsuccessful 2020 re-election bid, will once again oversee the CPAC straw poll, this time at the confab in Dallas.
Former President Trump speaks at CPAC in Dallas July 11, 2021. (Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images)
The three-day conference concludes Saturday with the release of the straw poll results — including the highly anticipated 2024 Republican presidential nomination questions — followed by a keynote speech from the former president.
McLaughlin, who’s been attending CPAC for decades, told Fox News that “just like back in the old days when Ronald Reagan defined and was setting the tone for the conservative movement, it’s the same thing right now with Donald Trump.”
As Fox News first reported last week, Trump’s name sits atop the GOP presidential nomination straw poll ballot, above the names of 20 other Republicans considered potential White House contenders in the 2024 election.
The 2024 straw poll includes a second list without Trump. The former president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., takes his place in the first spot on the ballot in the second 2024 question. Both ballot questions allow for respondents to write in the name of a potential candidate not listed and also allow for those voting to say they are undecided.
The former president, who remains the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party, continues to play a kingmaker’s role in GOP primaries and who for a year and a half has repeatedly teased another White House run in 2024, won 55% support in the straw poll conducted at the 2021 CPAC in Orlando, Florida. His support jumped to 70% in the 2024 straw poll conducted at last summer’s CPAC in Texas. Trump captured 59% of ballots cast in the anonymous online straw poll at the CPAC Orlando gathering in February.
In addition to Trump, the Texas CPAC main ballot will include (in the order they will appear):
– Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee
– Former Vice President Mike Pence
– Former Ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
– Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas
– Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich
– Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida
– Rand Paul of Kentucky
– Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
– South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem
– 2016 presidential contender and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson
– Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas
– Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri
– Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair
– Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
– Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a 2016 presidential candidate
– Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan
– Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina
– Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin
– Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott
– Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks at the 2022 CPAC conference at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 24, 2022. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
DeSantis came in a distant second in the straw poll in Orlando in February at 28%, up from his 21% standing in both CPAC straw polls from last year. No one else among the 19 names listed on the ballot in February cracked 2%.
The former president’s strong performances on the unscientific surveys come as no surprise. CPAC, long the largest and most influential gathering of conservatives, has become a Trumpfest since his 2016 presidential election victory.
Voting on the CPAC Texas straw poll ballot is only open to attendees of the confab, which kicked off Thursday. Voting will once again be conducted through the CPAC app. At last year’s gathering in Dallas, 1,525 ballots were cast.
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.