My piece earlier today about the state of the Ron Paul campaign after Super Tuesday featured some voices, including Paul campaign chair Jesse Benton, questioning the value of the $3.4 million spent by Paul-supporting SuperPAC Endorse Liberty.
I had not heard back from them before filing, but this afternoon did a phone interview with Endorse Liberty's co-founder, Orabrush entrepreneur Abe Neiderhauser.
Neiderhauser tells me he was pushed in a libertarian direction by economics teachers at Brigham Young back before 2008, though he was raised in a lefty household. He was a Romney supporter in 2008, though he's since come around.
Herewith, an edited version of our chat:
Neiderhauser: So far our efforts have been primarily focused online. We are a group of entrepreneurs particularly involved in the tech world, so we are big believers in the net and online world, which we feel is not being used to its full potential. We have all been successful with online marketing in our personal business lives and wanted to use those skills to promote political ideas we want to support, and that's essentially what we've been doing.
We anticipate that we'll keep doing a lot of online work, you reach a lot of younger people online. We haven't been able to reach some older folks, and we are looking at strategies to figure out ways to reach older folks, but we'll always have a big online presence.
Reason: You annoyed some people in the online world with that Politico piece that indicated you might be rethinking supporting Paul as your main thing.
Neiderhauser: Yeah, the Politico thing…I guess I shouldn't have used the word "reassess" in that interview. We are definitely behind Ron Paul, we are not diverting any funds away from him. We did mention and it's true to Politico that we are part of a movement and not just part of a single election. In the future we have plans to support anyone who upholds the principles of liberty we support, but we are not looking to pull support form Ron Paul. But yes, I said reassess, in the sense that we are always reassessing our strategy.
Reason: Any candidates on your radar screen for lower offices?
Neiderhauser: We don't have any specifically right now. We are doing research into a lot of races around the country and are hoping to come up with a few people can get behind in other races.
Reason: FEC reports say you've spent around $3.4 million. Is that right and how much do you have now?
Neiderhauser: $3.4 million, that sounds about right. We still have enough money that we are able to operate just fine, we have lots of donations coming in. We'll be able to keep running depending on the level of advertising we do. Our latest report through January we had $60 thousand at close of month, and we have substantially more than that now, but not the millions we had. We're continuing to fundraise.
Reason: Will you get more from your most generous supporter, Peter Thiel?
Neiderhauser: I don't know, to be honest. I would love that, but I don't know if he will.
Reason: You've probably seen some of the Ron Paul people questioning the value of what you guys have done. Please explain your tactics.
Neiderhauser: We primarily did work with online video. We hit quite heavily Iowa and New Hampshire. We have these ads running that geo-targeted those states. We tested different videos to find out which have the greatest response and get feedback from viewers on what they thought about Ron Paul before and after watching it.
You always wonder what kind of impact you are having, and there's no way to know for sure, But we have done some polling ourselves and we see corrolation between polling data and what we were doing in Iowa and New Hampshire. Ron Paul took about 50 percent of voters under 30—that is largely due to younger people being more excited about him and we feel like a lot is due to us and what we did online.
We run ads in several different places, most of them we ran through Google networks, we covered YouTube. We used the pre-roll ads, other type of ads, promoted videos where if you do a search it will list a few promoted videos for key words seached for, and when watching in "related videos" ours will also be promoted videos on those.
We ran ads in Google searches, we ran a few ads on Facebook which allows you to target people based on their political ideology or other interests, and target people that have different demographics. And we spent a bit on Stumbleupon. The ads directed people to view our videos.
Their YouTube channel indicates 13.9 million video views, though it is indeed difficult to know whether doubting Paul fans and campaign officials are correct that more effective ways to spend $3.4 million on supporting Paul might have existed.
Check out Endorse Liberty's channel on Paul and foreign policy.
As always, consider my forthcoming book on Paul, Ron Paul's Revolution.