Paul captured 31 percent of the vote in the annual straw poll — long viewed as a gauge of conservative sentiment — besting three-year winner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who finished with 22 percent. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin finished third with 7 percent, followed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 6 percent and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who received 5 percent.
Asked about the results Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Paul said, “it is significant, and it does get me excited.”
Paul said he was “a bit surprised” by his straw poll win but said it is “a good indication that maybe the sentiments are changing.”
The 2008 insurgent GOP presidential candidate attributed his victory to his younger supporters for backing his fiscal and foreign policy views and for showing up to vote in the straw poll.
“The young people are very interested in this. They turned out,” Paul said. “They generally turn out at CPAC meetings, but I think there’s definitely been a shift in attitude.”
“It’s not the conventional wisdom of the old Republican Party conservatism,” he said of the sentiment among his supporters. “I think something new is coming along.”
Paul said that he is “undecided” on another run for president in 2012, but warned GOP leaders to pay more attention to those in the party who share his views.
“The Republican Party and other leaders in this country need to wake up and find out exactly why the young people are sick and tired of what is being dumped on them politically and economically,” he said.