CPAC 2012: The First Big Presidential Straw Poll of the Cycle

The Conservative Political Action Conference is traditionally one of the year's biggest gatherings of Republicans.

It also boasts the first presidential straw poll of the 2012 cycle among Republicans from across the country.

There are 15 potential GOP presidential candidates on the ballot this year and the winner will surely get a bump out of the victory.

Nearly 11,000 people will walk through the doors this year and although the actual tabulation of the votes is done by professionals the results are still a bit unscientific.

The simple fact is that some of the players on the ballot are not even attending this year's conference, including Republican mega-star Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

While others spoke after the ballot boxes were closed.

Mississippi Gov Haley Barbour is a popular pick to make a 2012 run, but he didn't address the CPAC faithful until Saturday morning. The deadline for voting was Friday afternoon.

And there is even some controversy with the actual deadline. CPAC officials say they closed up the ballot boxes at 2:00pm on Friday, a full hour later than 2011.

However, people close to Tim Pawlenty are calling foul because the polls closed before the former Minnesota Governor finished speaking on Friday at 3:00pm.

The implication is Pawlenty supporters looking to vote after his speech were turned away.

To be fair, there is some confusion about the deadline, some CPAC officials were telling reporters on Tuesday the polls would remain open until 5:00pm on Friday.

However, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, spoke after Pawlenty and there are no complaints out of his camp.

That's because many of the voters are young Republicans from around the country who support the libertarian leaning 2008 presidential candidate.

Paul won theþ CPAC Straw Poll in 2010 and although it would be maddening to many of the GOP faithful here if he wins again this year, it should surprise none of them.

Here is the straw poll questionnaire:

Thinking ahead to the 2012 Presidential election, who would you vote for as your FIRST CHOICE to be the next Republican nominee for President?

1. Michele Bachmann, MN Representative

2. Haley Barbour, MS Governor

3. Herman Cain, Former Godfather Pizza CEO

4. Chris Christie, NJ Governor

5. Mitch Daniels, IN Governor

6. Newt Gingrich, Former House Speaker

7. Mike Huckabee, Former AR Governor

8. Jon Huntsman, Former UT Governor

9. Gary Johnson, Former NM Governor

10. Sarah Palin, Former AK Governor

11. Ron Paul, TX Representative

12. Tim Pawlenty, Former MN Governor

13. Mitt Romney, Former MA Governor

14. Rick Santorum, Former PA Senator

15. John Thune, SD Senator

16. Other _______________________

17. Undecided