Paul got 30 percent, while Romney got 23 percent of those who cast votes at the conference in Washington. Paul is a hero to libertarians and has a fiercely loyal following.
Others were grouped far behind.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels were among those in single digits.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, two high-profile Republicans who did not attend, were also in single digits.
Many potential candidates made speeches at the conference, attended by more than 11,000 conservative leaders and activists.
The poll found the top issues for those at the conference were reducing the size of the federal government, reducing government spending and lowering taxes.
The CPAC straw poll was co-sponsored by The Washington Times.