Mr. Paul won 25 percent of the vote, and Mr. Rubio collected 23 percent. Former Sen. Rick Santorum was third with just 8 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who was not invited to speak at the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference — was next with 7 percent, and Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the GOP’s vice presidential nominee last year, was fifth with 6 percent.
Mr. Paul’s victory puts him in the footsteps of his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, who won in 2010 and 2011.
“I’ve been standing with Rand since I came out of the womb,” said Austin Alexander, a 26-year-old consultant from New York who voted for the senator in the straw poll and who volunteered for the elder Mr. Paul’s campaign in 2012. Mr. Alexander said he believes the GOP is moving in the direction the Pauls espouse.
Mr. Rubio, meanwhile, won the hearts of more traditional conservatives. “I’ve been a supporter for Marco, like a lot of people, since the first time I heard the guy speak,” said Gary Kim, 62, from Colorado, who described himself as a social conservative and said Mr. Rubio can deliver that message in a way previous candidates such as Mr. Santorum could not.
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