The CPAC 2013 Straw Poll contains several policy questions that are phrased in such a way that discourages voters from expressing a preference for a strong national defense.
The questions are designed to make it more likely that participants will answer in favor of a more libertarian, non-interventionist foreign policy. The answers that someone in favor of a stronger, more proactive military policy would favor include extra rhetorical baggage that make voting for them problematic.
For example, one question on the straw poll asks:
Which ONE of the following comes closest to your core beliefs and ideology?
My most important goal is to promote traditional values by protecting traditional marriage and protecting the life of the unborn.
My most important goal is to promote individual freedom by reducing the size and scope of government and its intrusion into the lives of its citizens.
My most important goal is to secure and guarantee American safety at home and abroad regardless of the cost or the size of government.
Obviously, the phrase “regardless of the cost of the size of government” makes that answer an untenable one for most conservatives. Few advocates of a strong military want it with absolutely no restrictions at all.
The other questions do not have similar baggage. For example, the question about traditional values does not stipulate something such as: “regardless of intrusions on privacy.”
Another question asks about foreign policy in a clearly non-interventionist framing of the issue.
Which ONE of the following statement comes CLOSEST to your view regarding the United States’ role in the world?
As the world’s only superpower, the US needs to continue to bear the responsibility of protecting our allies in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world.
Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, it’s time for our European, Asian and other allies to provide for their own defense.
Don’t know / Prefer not to say
The polling, conducted by Fabrizio McLaughlin, would appear designed to favor those policy positions most closely associated with Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY. The portion of the poll that asks participants to select a presidential candidate does not appear to have the same bias.
The CPAC Straw Poll is not a scientific poll because it is heavily influenced by response bias–the decision of attendees to participate. In recent years, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has dominated the CPAC Straw Poll largely due to the active participation of his enthusiastic supporters.