The good news for Ron Paul voters is that their candidate only narrowly missed expectations. He polled poorly in the South but scored extremely well in states with caucuses, especially in the libertarian West. Let's run them down:
– Alaska. Paul hoped to win a symbolic victory here, but he came in 3rd with 17 percent of the vote. Good enough for 5 delegates out of 26.
– Arizona. A poor 4 percent and no delegates. (McCain got all 50.)
– Colorado. Fourth place and 8 percent of the vote, but no delegates.
– Minnesota. Paul rounded out the top four with a not-bad 16 percent of the vote. But it was a winner-take-all race and Mitt Romney got all 38 delegates.
– Montana. Second with 25 percent of the caucus votes, but in a winner-take-all state he walked away with no delegates.
– North Dakota. Third place with 21 percent of the vote, good for 5 delegates out of 23.
Nowhere else (except Illinois, NY, NJ) did Paul score above 4 percent, and nowhere else did he win delegates. CNN projects 16 delegates for the candidate overall after Tuesday, not counting the West Virginia deal.
Paul told me in New Hampshire that he'd reassess the race after Feb. 5. I've asked the campaign what the next steps will be but don't have an answer right now. Texas's primary is on March 4, and Paul is in far better shape than Dennis Kucinich is in his primary (also March 4), but Kucinich is fighting for his political life.
UPDATE: I was calling around San Francisco a month ago to see if Paul had a chance winning the small GOP vote in Nancy Pelosi's congressional district. (In the California GOP race delegates are awarded by congressional district and they're winner-take-all.) I decided there was no "there" there, and I guess I was right: Paul won only 8 percent in San Francisco. He barely won more votes than Rudy Giuliani, a function of how much absentee balloting there was and a function of a weak Paul effort.
Paul supporters, if you learn anything from this election, it should be this: Stop wasting your damn time waving signs on street corners. Canvassing and phone-banking aren't fun, but they win elections.