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Ron Paul Isn't Dead Yet

Yesterday I described the need to capitalize on Ron Paul’s following among younger voters. Despite predictions that his campaign is now on the decline, I don’t think we should count him out just yet.

Paul’s success to date has been attributed- rightly or wrongly- to the fact that Iowa allows same-day registration, and New Hampshire is an open primary state. As the theory goes, since the next several primaries are closed and require voters to be registered in advance, Paul’s success will diminish.

Let me throw a monkey wrench into this reasoning: Super Tuesday. In just over seven weeks, eleven states will hold primaries or begin caucuses on a single day. Here is the list:

Alaska
Georgia- open primary
Idaho- open primary, same-day registration
Massachusetts- open primary
North Dakota- open primary, no voter registration
Ohio
Oklahoma
Tennessee- open primary
Vermont- open primary
Virginia- open primary
Wyoming- same-day registration (caucus Tuesday to Friday)

See a pattern?

And while some will be quick to point out that Paul’s chance of success in states like Georgia or Tennessee are expected to be slim, let me remind the read that Paul finished only 2 percentage points’ difference from Romney in Iowa. Iowa. The “evangelical” state.

I think it’s clear by now that most of these states will go to Romney. Indeed, Doug Mataconis at Outside The Beltway makes the following predictions about Paul’s future in this primary season:

  • Ron Paul will not receive more than 23% of the vote in any contested primary or caucus going forward. By “contested” I mean a race where Mitt Romney still faces a serious challenge for the Republican nomination.
  • Ron Paul will not place higher than third in any contested primary or caucus in which there are more than three candidates in the race at the time
  • After the race whittles down to Romney and Paul (who will not get out of this race until the better end), there will not be a single two-person debate.
  • Ron Paul will not run as a third-party candidate in the fall.

But, as Brian Doherty at Reason points out, winning isn’t everything for Paul:

I have held my expectations in check for five years about the political possibilities of the whole “Ron Paul for President” thing, and he and his fans have exceeded them every step of the way. I vaguely saw the shape of what 2012 could mean for the ideas of liberty as represented by Paul, as written about in my forthcoming book Ron Paul’s Revolution, but never mustered enough hubris to predict its success with confidence. That confidence is beginning to seem justified about now. (Success, here, does not necessarily mean being the Republican candidate. But it does mean creating the solidified movement of ideas and passion that can grow to dominate American politics. That is, Romney is Rockefeller; Paul is Goldwater.) Paul’s encouraging early results this year are the most significant political results for the cause of liberty I could have imagined, arriving faster than I could have imagined. I expect it to only get more interesting from here.

Brian infers something which appeals to me: The idea that some of the libertarian mantra of individual liberty and economic freedom could sweep Republican politics even more than it already has. The fact that libertarian talking points- smaller government, economic freedoms, property rights, fiscal policy- have become mainstream within the GOP, is simply astonishing to me and other long-time Libertarians.

Ron Paul will hang around as long as he has money and support, and he has both in droves. If his supporters can weather him through the next seven weeks and bring him some success on Super Tuesday, that could be the bump he needs to maintain his support and keep him going for quite awhile longer. Doug makes another point in his post linked above:

The personality cult, the newsletters, and Paul’s ties to Paleoconservatives who think Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant and defend the Confederacy. This is not a good recipe for a “pro-liberty movement” at all. Rather than helping advance libertarianism, I’m coming to the conclusion that Ron Paul and his supporters are doing serious damage to it.

I echoed this point in an earlier post:

The best thing we can do to preserve “the Libertarian moment” is to cut Ron Paul loose. Yes, he was one of the formative figures in modern libertarianism. But he’s a liability to our movement we simply can’t afford.

While Paul is certainly bringing more attention to our cause, one has to wonder what the baggage fee for this attention will be.

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