The former Massachusetts governor is favored as the Republican presidential nominee by 38 percent of the 3,408 respondents. Rivals Rick Santorum drew 31 percent, and Newt Gingrich was favored by 15 percent. All three candidates addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Friday.
Romney had encouraged students to attend the convention, and 44 percent of them participated in the poll.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 12 percent. He won the straw poll in the previous two years. Paul did not attend the conference to campaign in Maine.
GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said the poll was held online for the first time this year and produced the second highest turnout in the conference’s history.