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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. –An independent straw poll of conservatives conducted by veteran activist Richard A. Viguerie found Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as the favorite presidential candidate for 2016, 12 points ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, said CPAC attendees “are rejecting the Republican establishment and its brand of Big Government ‘me-too-ism’ in favor of candidates who are authentic representatives of the grassroots conservative base of the party.”

Viguerie noted his poll is not the official CPAC straw poll.

Paul tops Viguerie’s poll with 29 percent, followed by Cruz with 17 percent. There was a three-way tie for third between Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with each garnering 10 percent.

“The fact that the top vote-getters in this year’s CHQ straw poll are young, limited-government constitutional conservatives bodes well for Republican chances in 2016,” said Viguerie.

He said all are “boat-rockers of a limited government constitutional conservative bent.”

The establishment Republican contenders, he said, are all at the bottom of the list.

Thursday at CPAC, Cruz called for the dismantling of President Obama’s agenda, including a complete repeal of Obamacare. Friday, Paul drew the conference’s most enthusiastic response to a presidential candidate, declaring, “I will not retreat an inch, and I will be heard.”

Here is Viguerie’s complete list:

  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. (29 percent)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas (17 percent)
  • Dr. Ben Carson (10 percent)
  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (10 percent)
  • Gov. Chris Christie, N.J. (10 percent)
  • Gov. Scott Walker, Wisc. (7 percent)
  • Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. (2 percent)
  • Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Fla. (2 percent)
  • Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. (2 percent)
  • Gov. Mike Pence, Ind. (1 percent)

Viguerie noted that former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal did not receive enough votes to remain on the leader board.

WND’s coverage of CPAC:

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