Ron Paul: Past, Present, and Prospects

Micah Cohen writing at the blog usually written by* Nate Silver, king of political numbers at the New York Times, gets around to doing a comprehensive overall comparison along the lines of what eager fans at the Daily Paul have been documenting for many months on a state-by-state basis: comparative number charts of Ron Paul's success this year compared to his 2008 run.

What's happened is, Paul's total has him getting 196 percent of the votes that he got in 2008 (and 225 percent of the votes if you only look at caucus states, where Paul's campaign tended to concentrate). **(Numbers corrected from first posting, in which I mistakenly referred to those as the percentage by which he had increased his totals compared to 2008.) His share of the total vote, with strong competition lasting a long time, only climbed 6 percent.   increased by six percentage points, from 4 percent to 10 percent.

Silver Cohen also cobbles together a 2008 vs. 2012 fundraising comparison for Paul's campaign, where it is merely holding its own, not increasing--in fact, even shrinking by around $350 thousand through the end of February, if only donation to the actual campaign, not Super PACs, is counted. In both years, over $34 million was collected by Paul's campaign.

This could be spun as a sign of stagnation. But in my read, given Paul's nearly complete lack of electoral success last time and the very quick revelation that, in terms of actually winning primaries or straw polls, he wasn't really doing any better in 2012, it's a revelation that his fan base didn't feel exhausted and discouraged after 2008. Even lacking the golden magic of something new on the rise, the Paul people have again given the campaign over $34 million. I think that is a sign of the movement's continued strength and relevance. 

Silver Cohen concludes that 

 in campaigns, money is raised to win votes, and Mr. Paul has won many more votes in 2012. What accounts for his success? It is possible that Mr. Paul has simply run a better campaign. But the more likely explanation is that the mood of the country is more aligned to Mr. Paul’s views than it was in 2008.

Politico this weekend surveyed another sign of the Paul movement's future, the many announced and prospective GOP candidates inspired by Paul, in a piece called "Ron Paul's Baby Boom." The key bits:

There’s no exact way of measuring how many Paul-inspired candidates are running this year. But Jared Paine, a Paul supporter who operates a website that tracks the campaigns of libertarian-minded candidates, said he counted around two dozen active Paul backers who are running for House or Senate seats and another 200 or so who are seeking local offices — almost all of them running as Republicans....

Many of the candidates have sought to tap into the energy surrounding Paul’s presidential campaign. John Dennis, a San Francisco Republican looking to unseat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has spoken at Paul rallies and cut a Web video urging voters to support Paul prior to the Iowa caucuses. Florida Senate candidate Mirand Sharma, who has worked as a Paul organizer, has sought to recruit campaign volunteers from among those who also support the congressman. Missouri hopeful Jason Greene, who is running for a House seat, has vigorously promoted his candidacy on Paul-focused online bulletin boards.

To hear those aligned with the GOP presidential candidate tell it, the proliferation of Paul-affiliated candidates underscores a simple truth: Paul, once regarded as a fringe candidate, has gone mainstream....

The rise of the Paul babies also reflects the increasingly central role of the Internet in political organizing. Paul’s grass-roots supporters have become known for their extensive use of the Web to promote the congressman, establishing sites like the Daily Paul and Ron Paul Forums to bring like-minded activists together. In recent months, Paul’s supporters have also begun using those online bulletin boards to promote their own candidacies.....

Christopher David, a 25-year-old Web consultant who worked on Paul’s 2008 campaign and is now running for a Los Angeles-area congressional seat, said Paul supporters recognized that his presidential campaign was coming to an end and were looking for a new avenue to express their support for him.

“There are a lot of people around the country and the world who identify with the things Ron Paul is saying,” said David, who highlights his work for Paul on his campaign website. “As the presidential campaign winds down, he’s going to have to pass the baton — and I don’t think it should be to just one person.”

But being a Paulite is by no means a guarantee you can even get an insurgent campaign off the ground:

Paul activist Dan Stojadinovic, announced last fall on the Ron Paul Forums website that he intended to run for Senate in Florida.

“My plan is to go around Florida and speak about Liberty,” Stojadinovic wrote. “The bad part is that I have no clue what to do so I need some help with paperwork first and understanding the process. I think I can speak well and promote Ron Paul and liberty but don’t understand the mechanics of the process right now.”

A few months later, Stojadinovic said on his website that he was aborting his bid. “Due to the lack of public donations and other needed political support such as media access, the campaign is unable to function and is in a state of suspension,” he wrote.

Changing American political culture is a long, long game, but the ripples from Paul's 2008 and 2012 races will play a big part in the only change that can actually preserve a nation bankrupt from overreachign foreign and domestic policy. For the story of the roots and rise of this movement, look for my forthcoming book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

*Thanks commenter Joe M. for correcting this point. The post originally credited the blog entry to Nate Silver himself.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    No offense to anybody, but a scatter-shot of Paul-supporting minor candidates popping up here and there like mushrooms after a rain does not indicate a long-term trend for the movement.

  • CE||

    That's what the dinosaurs said about the mice.

  • sarcasmic||

    Rush 2112!

  • ||

    Technical point: that particular analysis was not written by Nate Silver, but rather by Micah Cohen. It's the first time I've seen an article on that blog not written by Silver that I can recall, however.

  • ||

    Technical point: that particular analysis was not written by Nate Silver, but rather by Micah Cohen. Looks like he's been writing on the blog for a couple weeks at least now, although I don't recall seeing him before reading this piece.

  • Brian Doherty||

    Thanks Joe, corrected. Missed that.

  • ||

    Delving further into the history, it looks like he specializes in analyzing each state's electorate in anticipation of its primary/caucuses.

  • shrike||

    Silver has been the best for 4-5 years. His old blog was 538.com (or close to that) before the NYT bought it.

    Silver would move Intrade back to reality within seconds of one of his posts.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Not enough Christ-fag. D+.

  • ||

    "He" in this case was Cohen, not Silver.

  • sarcasmic||

    Rush 2112!

  • ||

    Burn, squirrels, burn.

  • ||

    Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

    Who is this mysterious man that Ron Paul inspired?

  • shrike||

    Libertarians need a spokesmodel and right now Gary Johnson is the frontrunner.

    Release that book as fast as you can, Doherty.

  • o3||

    one hopes libertarians reclaim significance w/in the gop & marginalize the evangelicals to re-establish a coherent loyal opposition.

  • John Thacker||

    The evangelicals basically never nominate "their" candidate, and they're not going to in 2012 either. They also basically never get any substantive policy changes. Some cultural affiliation stuff is said, but that's most of politics, as a look at any party will show you.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Where's wen with his "[only] the Republican party must be destroyed" bullshit?

  • shrike||

    Close to "never".

    They got their guy in 2000.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Fuck you, shrike.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Oops, left out "you got YOUR guy in 2008", though why any capitalist would want a Democrat in office is a puzzler.

  • shrike||

    You stupid fucking idiot. McCain was 900x better than Dumbya in 2000 but the Fundies derailed him.

    McCain would have been nowhere nearly as bad as the Bushpigs. Then the stupid GOP ran McCain into the 2008 juggernaut meltdown of their own doing.

    Its like the GOP pinch-hit for Barry Bonds with some silly weakling in 2000.

  • ||

    I do greatly enjoy the ridiculously technical number crunching at that blog, I'll admit, as it doesn't veer into partisan nonsense.

  • ||

    Micah Cohen seems to be bad at math. +125% for total votes in caucuses is not the same as the reported +225% -- same deal for +94% versus +194% for primaries, and +96% versus +196% for total votes.

    Surprised no one in the comments section at the NYT called him out on this basic error.

  • ||

    I missed that too. It's also notable that his "Share of Vote Total" and "Average State Share" numbers are technically wrong. They didn't increase by eight and five percent, but rather either eight and five percentage points, or 67% and 31%, respectively.

  • ||

    Brian Doherty also seems to be bad at math:

    What's happened is, Paul's total votes are 196 percent higher (and 225 percent higher if you only look at caucus states, where Paul's campaign tended to concentrate).

    His total votes are 96% higher (125% higher in caucus states).

  • CE||

    And his overall support isn't 6 percent higher, it's six percentage points higher, I assume.

  • Brian Doherty||

    prole--thanks, pure too-quick idiocy on my part in the first posting, though if you refresh that point has been corrected.

  • Enough About Palin||

    "Don't mind the groping, little lady; I'm a doctor."

  • Old Mexican||

    A few months later, Stojadinovic said on his website that he was aborting his bid. “Due to the lack of public donations and other needed political support such as media access, the campaign is unable to function and is in a state of suspension,” he wrote.


    This is the same Florida that placed the blood-thirsty warmonger Marco Rubio in the Senate, so good luck with that.

    Sorry, my friends, but things will have to get a hell of a lot worse before they get better, and it would still mean an uphill battle for lovers of liberty because people just like to live off others.

  • 0x90||

    Can't seem to read that name as anything other than "Ron Pual" anymore. Thanks, Max.

  • CE||

    Online bulletin boards? What are those?

  • ||

    They were a big deal back in the 1800's.

  • CE||

    Or compare Ron Paul to Newt Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House who received far more media coverage:

    State RP% NG%
    AL 5 29
    OH 9 15
    WI 11 6
    MD 9 11
    DC 12 11
    TN 9 24
    NH 23 9
    LA 6 16
    GA 7 47
    AZ 9 16
    IL 9 8
    MS 4 31
    VT 25 8
    MA 10 5
    OK 10 27
    VA 40 0
    MI 12 7
    MO 12 0
    FL 7 32
    SC 13 40
    AK 24 13
    ME 36 6
    WY 21 8
    HI 19 11
    KS 13 14
    ID 18 2
    ND 28 8
    WA 25 10
    MN 27 11
    CO 12 13
    NV 19 21
    IA 21 13

    Total: Ron Paul 18, Newt Gingrich 14
    Who (in the media) would have predicted that?

  • Last Bastion||

    If nothing else, I hope Ron Paul's run at the Presidency at least helps to reveal to the citizenry the systemic corruption of US politics.

    The greedy old guard is desperately trying to hold the gate, but the Doctor's presentment of his libertarian principles is highly stirring: he is roiling a tsunami of change.

    ronpaulitic.com = the Ron Paul map

  • Robert||

    It was a lot easier in 1964, when the only significant opposition to the Goldwaterites was the moderates -- your Ripon society types, Rockefeller Republicans, Stassen, Romney, etc. Now you still have moderates, but also neocons and theocons contending, so it's harder to squeeze in libertarians. Still, it's incomparably better than among the Democrats, where it's all log rolling by various constituencies.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement