Is CPAC losing its mojo?

The once-unavoidable Conservative Political Action Conference is facing some conspicuous absences this year

CPAC.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Gettyimages)

It's been nearly half a century since then-Governor Ronald Reagan addressed the first Conservative Political Action Conference, peppering his 1974 speech with invocations of American greatness and invectives against government regulations, while praising future senator and presidential nominee John McCain's Vietnam War-era courage as "typical of this land."

In the decades since Reagan's address, CPAC has become one of the primary annual focal points of mainstream conservatism — even as that mainstream incorporates increasing extremes, particularly in recent years — standing on par with the Republican National Convention. It's where right-wing aspirants and operators make their appeals to the base, who in turn jostle for access, influence, and proximity to those working their way up the conservative ranks. It is, per longtime GOP pollster Jim McLaughlin, "the ultimate barometer of what's going on in the conservative movement." As factions within the Republican party grapple with how former President Donald Trump fits into the GOP's future, this year's conference is just as notable for who is scheduled to participate as who isn't. In the vacuum left by these conspicuous absences, the question arises: Is CPAC losing steam in the conservative world? Here's everything you need to know:

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