POSTED: Saturday, March 16, 2013 - 8:30pm
UPDATED: Saturday, March 16, 2013 - 8:34pm
CNN — Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday. Paul won with 25% of the vote and finished slightly ahead of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. In third place was former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Nearly 3,000 votes were cast by attendees at the three-day conference held at a hotel just outside of Washington. The straw poll is considered one way to gauge where the conservative base stands on potential Republican nominees. The ballot included 23 Republicans with a national political profile as well as spots for write-ins and "undecided."
Former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice and 43 others - including former president Richard Nixon - received at least one write-in vote.
Another potential presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, asked not to be on the ballot. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who received 7%, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, were on the ballot but were not invited to speak on the main stage.
Eventual Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the straw poll last year.
-- CNN's Steve Brusk and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report