As the largest annual gathering over 11,000 conservatives, CPAC is an event that brings together a diverse group of politicians and activists. For some, this year’s gathering helped solidify whom it is they wish to support in 2016. But others have left the conference feeling confused.
“[CPAC] made it more complicated because there was no clear front-runner,” said senior University of North Texas political science and psychology major, Baileigh Poston. Poston, like other young conservatives in attendance, listened to a lineup of potential 2016 candidates, but concluded the week even more unclear of who they like the most.
“There were a lot of great ideas and a lot of different ideas… but there wasn’t a lot of talk of at-home economic issues,” Poston added, saying a broader focus could have helped her come to a clear decision.”
The conference’s official straw poll, which Kentucky Senator Rand Paul won for the third year in a row, is criticized as not being a good enough indicator of who the best potential candidate is. The results also showed a lack of unity: Paul won with only 25.7% of the vote. A considerable block, but far from the support he would need to win his party’s nomination.[hr]
This CPAC was the last one before the 2016 campaign season officially begins. Every notable candidate, including heavily criticized Governors Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, made an appearance, looking to accumulate support for a 2016 presidential campaign. Following every potential candidate’s speech, Sean Hannity of Fox News lead a question and answer session, pulling questions from the on-site audience and those participating online.
The speakers list included Senator Rand Paul, Governor Rick Perry, Donald Trump, Governor Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Governor Jeb Bush.