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U.S. Republican presidential candidates gather before the start of their debate in Ames, Iowa August 11, 2011. They are (from L to R) Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich. REUTER
The Clown Town Express, circa 2011
Over the weekend, CPAC held its annual presidential straw poll, picking Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for the second year in a row. As you might guess, the straw poll was dominated by men: Nearly two-thirds of those straw poll voters were male.

And if you think that's lopsided, chick this out: Just four percent of straw poll votes went to female candidates, which is probably four percent more than will be cast when the actual primaries begin, given that there almost certainly won't be a female Republican candidate.

Rand Paul: 31
Ted Cruz: 11
Ben Carson: 9
Chris Christie: 8
Rick Santorum: 7
Marco Rubio: 6
Paul Ryan: 3
Rick Perry: 3
Bobby Jindal: 2
Condi Rice: 2
Mike Huckabee: 2
Sarah Palin: 2
As far as the the nomination goes, the CPAC straw poll doesn't actually count for anything, but it's worth noting that aside from Paul, only one potential candidate cracked double-digits—Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who came in second with 11 percent. What the results really show is that outside of the Paul-wing of the GOP, the presidential race is wide open. Last year, Marco Rubio got 23 percent, just two points behind Paul and well ahead of the rest of the field. This year, thanks to his support for immigration reform, he's cratered, coming in sixth place with just six percent.

It could be that 2016 hopefuls just don't care as much about doing well in the CPAC straw poll as Mitt Romney did (he came in first or second every year from 2007 through 2012), but the fact that each of the first three names on this year's results list are certified political clowns and proud of it, perhaps its not too much to dream that the GOP's 2016 nomination battle will be even more hilarious than their 2012 affair.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 11:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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