YAL @ CPAC 2013: Live Report

Linnie Leavines
Mar 15, 2013 at 8:52 PM

Day One

If you have been keeping an eye on the news lately, you’ll know that Young Americans for Liberty is having one of our most amazing years at CPAC yet!

CPAC 2013, the largest annual conservative conference in the country, began the weekend with a media firestorm that was centered on the grassroots youth support for the libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul.

Senator Paul, who gained international media attention for his historic 13-hour filibuster last week, was greeted by a large crowd of students and new fans during his CPAC speech Thursday. He emphasized the importance of being consistent advocates of freedom, and claimed the GOP has “grown stale and moss-covered” and needs to embrace liberty in both the economic and personal sphere.


Watch Senator Paul’s speech at CPAC!

Prior to Senator Paul’s speech, dozens of students wandered throughout the convention center handing out “Stand with Rand” t-shirt, stickers, and signs to fellow supporters. 1,000 shirts were given away in about four hours, and worn in the support of the Senator during his speech. Many attendees also stood throughout the course of the speech in reference to his filibuster.

The “Stand with Rand” grassroots effort was the most visible evidence that the libertarian-conservatives are becoming more integral to the party. Young Americans for Liberty also received a significant amount of press in connection with the event, given our role in mobilizing conservative and libertarian students on college campuses, and new reports are still rolling in.

Edward King, YAL’s Director of Programs, spoke to The Daily Beast and other media outlets about our role in yesterday’s success:

Edward King, YAL's Director of Programs, speaks with the media

Photo credit: The Washington Examiner

 “There were about 20 to 30 people who e-mailed me looking for tickets to CPAC recently, people who may or may not have been fans of CPAC or the party before, but now they’re taking a fresh look," said King, standing in front of YAL’s booth where members handed out red “Stand with Rand” T-shirts and stickers. “There is no question that younger people are attracted to his message,” said King. “I think the future of the party is with Rand Paul.”

 Students Stand with Rand at CPAC 2013

Photo credit: The Daily Beast

Young conservatives and libertarians alike stood with Senator Rand Paul during his speech at CPAC 2013.

Though the “Stand with Rand” story undoubtedly stole the show yesterday, it was not the only indication that CPAC is growing increasingly receptive to libertarian-leaning ideas, organizations and leaders.

Several hundred people also attended “A Roundtable Discussion on the Future of the Movement: Winning with Generation X/Y” yesterday, where YAL’s Executive Director Jeff Frazee weighed in as a panelist. This discussion, which was centered upon the best ways for conservatives to draw in a coalition of libertarian-leaning millennials, revealed a growing interest in incorporating libertarian ideas and values into the conservative movement.

Day one of CPAC 2013 was clearly a huge success for YAL, and we’re excited to see what the rest of the weekend will bring! If you are here, don’t forget to come visit our booth and make plans to attend our post-straw poll Happy Hour Saturday night at Cadillac Ranch.

Day Two

On the second day at CPAC 2013, Young Americans for Liberty displayed two of our most popular activism projects in the Exhibit Hall.

As on the first day, we brought back our own version of Advocates for Self Government’s World’s Smallest Political Quiz, which we used to map the political affiliations of CPAC 2013 attendees on our giant, diamond-shaped grid. Test takers answered 10 questions about social and economic issues, and where then scored to determine if they were centrists, right conservatives, left liberals, statists, or libertarians.

Of course, given that we were at CPAC, it is hardly surprising that many scores were plotted to the right-of-center, but the vast majority of answers were also skewed up the grid, placing them in the libertarian quadrant next to Dr. Ron Paul, Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Justin Amash, Senator Ted Cruz, and even Ronald Reagan.

The World's Smallest Political Quiz at CPAC 2013CPAC attendees took YAL’s "The Political Philosophy of CPAC 2013" quiz to see where they belonged on the political spectrum, and planted a small flag where they fell.


On Friday we also brought our 
Jenga-nomics kit, part of our Free Markets 101 activism project. It proved irresistible to passersby and was an excellent way to draw people into a conversation about the fallacies of wealth redistribution, socialism and cronyism.

At times, the stack would be so unstable that dozens of onlookers would nervously watch to see what would happen next.  It even attracted the attention of a photographer from Associated Press, who captured this great moment:

Jenganomics: The Game of Wealth Redistribution

Photo Credit: The Huffington Post

 Lauren Patton and Tara Goulding play Jenga-nomics: The Game of Wealth Redistribution.

We can't even begin to count the amount of new signups that we received as a result of these two fun projects, but there is no doubt they are some of the best recruitment tools YAL has to offer! Click here to learn more about the activism kits you can order for your YAL chapter this spring.

Day Three

The final day of CPAC 2013 was arguably the most exciting one for YAL this year. Not only did Senator Rand Paul win the Presidential straw poll with 25% of the vote, but many of the questions asked this year had very libertarian-leaning answers.

Rand Paul wins the CPAC 2013 Straw Poll

The CPAC straw poll is known to be a good indicator of issue salience and demographic trends in the Republican Party. For example, over half of attendees at CPAC this year were between 18 and 25. And, out of the 2,930 CPAC 2013 attendees, 77%  indicated that “combating government overreach” was their highest political priority this year, as opposed to the more hawkish options like promoting “traditional values” and “focusing on national security.”

Supporters of liberty were a hot commodity at CPAC 2013, so it’s no surprise YAL made the news many times last weekend! Here is a brief snapshot of the attention we received:

And new reports are still rolling in!

Many thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help run the booth and celebrate with us afterward. We’re looking forward to next year! 

YAL Happy Hour at Cadillac RanchAbbey Torkelson photographed a YAL Happy Hour attendee on the $3 bull ride at Cadillac Ranch. Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate a successful CPAC with us last Saturday!