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What Would Ron Paul Do?

First I'll just go ahead an apologize to the legions on Internet Ron Paul fans... I know you're great at organizing, spreading the word, jamming up polls, and generally making name for your candidate, but your man isn't going to win - heck he's not even going to place or show... It's a sad fact of political life, but all the online cheering and rallying in the world doesn't translate to registered voters going to polls; just ask the NetRoots. Given the libertarian bent of Paul support it's a good bet that a lot of his support comes from people who have never cast a vote in a Republican primary and may not be sure how to do so if they somehow get motivated to get out of the house on primary day.

The Paul campaign is every bit as notorious (and noteworthy) as Howard Dean's failed 2004 run even if he's nowhere near as popular as Dean was among the techno-savy at this point in the campaign. The Ron Paul campaign - or more accurately Paul supporters - are the first grassroot success on the Republican side of the ledger and whichever candidate ultimately prevails will be inflicting what, if history is any guide, may well be a fatal blow if they fail to truly come to grips with some of the successes he's had.

Peter Daou, one of the stalwarts of the left side of the blogosphere (and currently working for the Clinton campaign) noted some of the real problems that the Kerry campaign had "internalizing" the rise of the Internet as an organization tool:

My challenge was to bring the energy, ideas, and attitude of the netroots into the heart of the campaign, and provide tools, information and support to the online community. I ran into two big obstacles, one of which was the tremendous amount of money being raised online. Not surprisingly, the Internet was perceived as a source of cash, not as a research or communications tool. I joined the campaign motivated by the prospect of hundreds of thousands of ready and able online activists working together to probe every angle of an issue, explore every line of an argument, act as a massive oppo research team and real-time focus group, carrying a unified and disciplined message online and offline. This was an untapped resource that hadn't existed in previous presidential elections and I hoped the campaign would harness it, but the prodigious fundraising capabilities of the Internet sucked up all the online oxygen.

The second obstacle, and the more serious one, was the unwillingness of Democratic strategists to heed BC04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman's prediction that the party that dominated the Internet would win the election. I had faith in the collective wisdom of the netroots - I believed that if the Kerry campaign truly internalized the confrontational disposition of the netroots, Kerry would win, just as I knew that if Bush channeled the fire of the rightwing blogs, Kerry could lose. And I made my case as forcefully as I could. Many in the campaign understood the new political reality, including John Kerry himself, who was very attentive to what bloggers were saying. But the natural antagonism of the old guard toward the new was an institutional problem and the marginalization of the netroots as a communications force, as well as the hyper-focus on Internet fundraising, hindered the online-offline alliance.

While the Ron Paul campaign is bound to be a historical footnote in Republican party history, the success they've had in organizing, campaigning, reaching new voters, and fundraising via the Internet is one that the front-runners (and eventual nominee) need to be studying. They Kerry campaign illustrated that if you just focus on the money you're looking in the wrong place...


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Comments (18)

"...his support comes f... (Below threshold)
marc:

"...his support comes from people who have never cast a vote in a Republican primary and may not be sure how to do so if they somehow get motivated to get out of the house on primary day.

Bingo, the Paulbots are nothing but a right-side remake of the Deaniacs.

And the same thing will occur, they raise a lot of cash and come election day they mostly stay home fiddling with their IPods and XBoxes.

Marc,I am elated t... (Below threshold)
Wayne D.:

Marc,

I am elated that you feel this way!

Why? Because you won't even see us coming! YOU will be sitting home playing your xbox, thinking your guys have the nomination locked up.

The winner of the most straw polls predicts an entriely DIFFERENT outcome.

Were you playing your Xbox when the pollsters called you? I bet you were. Where do you think the "Ron Paul Cult" was when the pollsters called? They were out campaigning for their man. That's where I was the three times they called my house.

And this is coming from a GOP consultant that most certainly HAS attended conventions.

But, please, go on believing he has absolutely no chance. That's exactly what we want you to believe. :)

I suppose the belief that P... (Below threshold)

I suppose the belief that Paul will win is no more ridiculous than many others held by the Paulbots . . .

You should google what Zogb... (Below threshold)
gorak:

You should google what Zogby himself had to say about Paul. He believes Paul will places, and pull double digits.

And unlike Howard Dean, the media can't stab Ron Paul in the back because they have thrown all the dirt they have, asked all the awkward questions they could think of. Dean was an MSM tool, and I wish people would realize that. Paul is the real deal of internet revolutionary politics.

I have pretty much made up ... (Below threshold)
jdgjtr:

I have pretty much made up my mind to vote for any Republican except Ron Paul. I can respect the man personally, but I dislike some of his views. His supporters, however, just plain creep me out and have made it easy for me to decide against him.

Paul may well "pull double ... (Below threshold)

Paul may well "pull double digits" - meaning 10% or more - in a primary or two. That's a long shot from winning. In fact, in most states it won't even earn any delegates.

While their online presence is certainly notable (to be kind), the Paulbots hardly represent a model for mainstream political campaigns. It's easiest to organize kooks, as the "9/11 Truther" movement (who, incidentally, comprise a not insignificant portion of Paul's support) showed.

The Deaniacs, while hosting a sizable component of nutty leftists, for the most part remained a part of the Democratic Party after Howard melted down. Paulbots aren't really Republicans in any sense - several polls have shown large majorities of Paul supporters have NO "second choice" among Republican candidates, and are likely to support a third party or just sit out the election once Paul is mathematically eliminated (which may be the only way to convince them he can't win).

To the extent his support comes from Truthers, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, other anti-semitic types, anarchists, and child pornographers, I say, "Good riddance!" I don't see any great lesson to be learned from them; attracting pests is never difficult.

Wayne D - "Why? Because... (Below threshold)
marc:

Wayne D - "Why? Because you won't even see us coming! YOU will be sitting home playing your xbox, thinking your guys have the nomination locked up."

What did that take... all of 12 minutes for one of the Paulbots to make a sad attempt to counter my first post.

You're correct, I won't see you coming, 'cause 90% of the co called Paulbots are all air and no substance.

Sorry asshat, I failed to jump on the wildly overpriced Xbox/WII/Playstation bandwagon. I left that ride for you idiots who live in the land of "Paul," where the sky is rosy, has 4 moons.

enjoy your ride while you can, 'cause it won't last beyond March.

gorak - "And unlike How... (Below threshold)
marc:

gorak - "And unlike Howard Dean, the media can't stab Ron Paul in the back because they have thrown all the dirt they have, asked all the awkward questions they could think of."

I'll take your word on that because I spend about as much time concerned with Paul and his army of droids as I do worrying about that thing that's scheduled to crash into Mars.

However, if what you say is true and the media has shot their load and Paul is "still standing" as it were, just why hasn't the "media vetted, pure as the driven snow" Paul pulled more support?

Why can't he bust the 10% barrier? (or in most cases 2%) Comeon guy... lets you see ya drag out some vast right/left wing conspiracy tripe so we can all have our belly laugh of the day.

It's the Stormfront endorse... (Below threshold)

It's the Stormfront endorsement of Paul that turns me off to him as possible presidental fodder. As well as his lack of sense on foriegn policy, and the antics of his spamming supporters.

He's another Dean, waitin' for a scream.

I hope he gets us out of th... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

I hope he gets us out of the UN and opposes the NORTH AMERICAN UNION and boots the sinitser CFR out of america and removes those liberal activists judges from the bench and supports total tort reform

I heard on some radio show,... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

I heard on some radio show, some Paulbot rationalizing that the election process is rigged because Paul wins internet Polls by huge margins but he doesn't do as well in established Polls and likely won't do well in the Primaries.

Basically the conspiracy theories are already in place. How far will the MSM go to legitimize the claims?

The Stormfront endorsement ... (Below threshold)
politicalsanity Author Profile Page:

The Stormfront endorsement has been refuted-- the real journalists investigated the allegation and proved it to be false. The NYT has printed a retraction.

But how does getting money from a donor translate into agreeing with what the donor stands for?

As far as the internet polls vs national landline polls vs straw polls--

Well, most of the early national polls didn't even list Ron Paul as a choice, he was the 'other' candidate. Since they have actually started including him by name in (some of ) the polls, his name recognition is going up, therefore his poll numbers are going up.

The national polls also only track voters who had voted in their party at the last national election, who have a landline telephone, and who hadn't moved. When you consider the number of people who have moved into and inter state, who don't use landlines and who have either switched parties or registered to vote for the first time, that is a pretty small baseline to begin with.

Straw polls? He's been coming on strong in the latest straw polls, winning most of them handily. Those are the ones where you actually have to leave the house, go somewhere else and pay for the priviledge of voting. He's gotten his supporters to go out and vote... so many of them, in fact, that the San Francisco Republican Straw Poll was cancelled when the Paul supporters showed up and outnumbered the Thomspon AND McCain AND Giuliani supporters PUT TOGETHER!

The internet polls- well, its fairly easy to set up a site that allows only IP address and one email address. Any competant programmer can make it virtually spam-proof.

AOL has a poll that they are currently running that is being billed as 'spam-proof'-- and Ron Paul has a huge lead, almost double the numbers of the 2nd place Republican, Rudy Giuliani.

I realize that you're hostile to Ron Paul-- but I would hope that you guys would at least check facts before you post.

They should, indeed, be stu... (Below threshold)
jpe:

They should, indeed, be studying the Paul campaign. Hopefully they'll learn something about separation of powers and the rule of law.

Straw polls shmaw polls, th... (Below threshold)

Straw polls shmaw polls, there's only one that counts and he won't win it. Period. Kick, scream, spew insults, it only makes you and your candidate look bad.

Normally it is indeed not l... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Normally it is indeed not legitimate to associate a candidate with specific donors. However, Ron Paul does appear to be intentionally courting the whackjobs like Stormfront and the 911 Truthers and can't be surprised at the taint as a result.

politicalsanyiy - "in f... (Below threshold)
marc:

politicalsanyiy - "in fact, that the San Francisco Republican Straw Poll was cancelled when the Paul supporters showed up and outnumbered the Thomspon AND McCain AND Giuliani supporters PUT TOGETHER!"

The reports I've seen suggest the PaulBots only numbered something less than 200. Not enough to have anyone shanking in their boots.

"The internet polls- well, its fairly easy to set up a site that allows only IP address and one email address. Any competant programmer can make it virtually spam-proof."

And so? What does it say about the PaulBots that they take advantage of cites that don't and spam the hell out of them?

Not much in my book, in fact it makes the polls and the PaulBots look mighty suspect. But that fits the situation, Ron Paul is nothing more than a sham and snakeoil salesman.

Ron Paul is often interview... (Below threshold)

Ron Paul is often interviewed and financially supported by the so called "9-11 truther" crowd. According to them, Muslims never do anything wrong. They blame all terrorism first on the US, then Israel, the Jews, then blacks. They sound like either stealth Nazis or stealth Klansmen or both. The "9/11 truthers" spend a lot of time commiserating with racial separatists over the plight of Aryans. If Ron Paul lies down with dogs, he gets up with fleas.

The fact that RP won't get ... (Below threshold)
don:

The fact that RP won't get votes from people who support him directly addresses his point about too much government: how in this day and age can't an election be run more efficiently? We should be able to pick up a phone and vote for Pete's sake. If anyone but the government wree running the election we would be able to. It's the inefficiencies of the government itself that will preclude RP from contending.




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