No Rand Paul Surprise in Iowa; Fifth Place, Likely 4.5 Percent [UPDATED and Corrected on County Breakdown]

Ron Paul counties in 2012 went for 9 for Cruz, 7 for Trump; big college counties for Rubio


Despite hopes and guesses about bad polling and great ground game, as discussed in posts by me earlier today, it looks like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has pulled off no particular surprise in tonight's Iowa caucus, coming in fifth with about 4.5 percent of the vote. (That is well above such folk as Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich, who all were included in a debate a few weeks ago Paul was booted from.)

Ron Paul got 21 percent in Iowa in 2012, in comparison. Although various Rand Paulites assured me that a total loss of the Ron base was a myth, it looks true on the macro level.

And on the micro? Let's look at the counties Ron Paul won in 2012.

There were 15 16 of them, most in the east or south of the state. Of the 14 for which results are in, Rand Paul even managed to hit the top 4 in only one, Jefferson County, home of Fairfield and Maharishi University of Management, a county Ron Paul won all the way back in 2008 as well.

Of the 15 16 Ron Paul counties, Donald Trump won nine of them tonight, and Sen. Ted Cruz won five.  Ted Cruz won nine of them, and Donald Trump won seven. [My handcount on this last night was mistaken; headline also corrected]

What does this mean? It gives some weight to the conclusion of the anonymous Paul-watcher I quoted this morning who noted that for many voters in Iowa, Ron Paul was less the libertarian choice than the radical anti-establishment choice, and that that energy went to Trump. And that Cruz may have actually appealed to many would-be "constitutionalists" despite his stances on things like surveillance and war.

There has never been, as far as I've seen, any actual social science data about Ron Paul voters. By the nature of things, as a reporter in Iowa in 2012 I mostly got to meet and talk to the serious fans who showed up to rallies, who I found were very largely libertarian in outlook, even if they didn't identify with the term. 

Rand Paul certainly failed to capture and build on whatever it was that attracted those to Ron Paul. The content of his speeches I saw and followed (via the Internet, was not on the ground there) felt libertarian in intent, mostly. If Iowa is any indication, though, that was not what a lot of voters wanted or needed to hear right now.

Now, the biggest thing often not accounted for in this sort of analysis is the potential voters who don't vote at all, so we have no way of knowing if it's the same voters who voted for Ron in 2012 not voting for Rand, or voting for Trump, this time. There was a 46 percent first-time caucusgoers turnout, so only 54 percent of caucusgoers today represented a past "Ron Paul vote" to win or lose. 

The student angle, which was supposed to be Paul's salvation, paid off a tiny bit. For example, in Story County, home to Iowa State University, Paul did come in 4th with 8.7 percent; but Florida Sen. Marco Rubio crushed with a 32 percent win. In Johnson County, home to University of Iowa, Paul also came in 4th at 8.9 percent; again Rubio seemed to have more student appeal, with a 29 percent victory there.

NEXT: Sarah Palin Used to Think Polls Were Only For Strippers

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  2. Looks like I won't have a chance to Handle the Randall

    1. Or spell it apparently

  3. Well, shit.

  4. Almost double what Jeb got, and that's what really matters. Sorry Jeb!

    1. Yeah, who would have predicted that a year ago?

  5. Time for Rand to drop out and back Trump.

    1. Time for Rand to drop out and focus on his Senate seat. Time for libertarians to forget about the rotten GOP and look forward to a Gary Johnson run. Or better yet, forget about politics altogether.

    2. A vote for Trump is a vote for Chinese-style "state capitalism". Trump in 2011:

      'You land your plane at LaGuardia Airport, you go to LaGuardia Airport, it's like a Third World airport ... If you look at what China is doing, they're stealing our jobs, they're taking our money. They're building bridges. They're building airports. They're building cities, brand new cities. When was the last time you saw a bridge being built in the United States?'

      Trump would bring Chinese-style ghost cities and more bridges to nowhere to America. Trump would continue the money printing and debt-fueled ponzi economy that he owes his wealth to.

      1. They rebuilt the east span of the Bay Bridge over the past several years. You know, one of the most heavily trafficked bridges in the country. That construction began before 2011. Trump is just a straight up liar. He thinks he can just say outlandish things with authority and that people will magically forget all evidence to the contrary because they are so enraptured by his passion. Problem is, he's right.

        1. And here is a history of the cost explosion for that bridge:

          $250 million (1995) retrofit existing bridge
          $1 billion (1996) fourfold increase after more detailed engineering studies
          $1.3 billion (1997)
          $2.6 billion (2001)
          $5.5 billion (2005)
          $6.5 billion (Current)

          Finished in 2013.

          So it takes a government 18 years to complete and cost increases by a factor of 26 from start to finish. No wonder we have a $19 trillion national debt. California's unfunded liabilities aren't much better.

        2. Problem is, he's right.

          He's damn right. People are the worst.

  6. Ron Paul, Donald Trump. Potato, po-tah-to.

    1. In all seriousness I've suspected that the tard leaning portion of the paultards have moved onto Sanders and Trump. The Sanders internet brigade certainly has that smell.

      1. oh yea.
        The young ones went to bernie.

        The old ones went to trump.

        they based their decision on who they blamed more, corporations or immigrants.

        I am curious what trump's game is. Bc it is definitely not what he says, He's just feeding garbage to those who are ruled by the lower parts of the brain, women call it passion.
        He's just well versed in persuasion, com professors are prolly jealous.

      2. oh yea.
        The young ones went to bernie.

        The old ones went to trump.

        they based their decision on who they blamed more, corporations or immigrants.

        I am curious what trump's game is. Bc it is definitely not what he says, He's just feeding garbage to those who are ruled by the lower parts of the brain, women call it passion.
        He's just well versed in persuasion, com professors are prolly jealous.

  7. I spent a summer in Iowa working at an ethanol plant on the eastern border of the state. It was an awful combination of manufacturing belt decay and rural vindictiveness. Golf was more expensive than in San Diego because there was nothing else to do. Based on the results I've seen, it looks like most of the filthy-ass Mississippi and Missouri river people went for Trump and Sanders.

    1. Not true. A fellow plant operator here. I wouldn't vote for Trump or Sanders if a gun were to be held to my head. Liberty is more important than every soul on planet Earth.

    2. "...it looks like most of the filthy-ass Mississippi and Missouri river people went for Trump and Sanders."
      Gotta say this is the most astute political analysis I have read on these threads since the campaigns began last year.

    3. Golf was more expensive than in San Diego because there was nothing else to do.

      Dafuq, really? In Iowa?! Torrey Pines was like 170-180 last I looked. Pelican Hill (not really SD, but close enough) was 3 something or other. Though yeah, what else is there to do in Iowa but pheasant hunt and smoke meth? (And eat fantastic beef---evidently the basic supermarket fare there beats what most of the rest of the country gets.)

      How's Pendleton's course(s)? The ex-Fort Ord's were awesome, and inexpensive, especially compared to everything else in the Pebble Beach-corrupted area.

    4. That's what you get for working in Clinton. That town smells absolutely terrible.

  8. OUCH! beat out by Carson. But, according to the NYT link, that still gives Paul 1 delegate. And hopefully the crowd will start to thin, and Rand can get more time in upcoming debates.

    1. Also "Other" got 112 votes (as of now) and Jim Gilmore got 12

    2. Rand likely won't be in the next GOP debate unless he leap-frogs Christie into 6th place nationally. Otherwise it's Top 3 Iowa and Top 6 NH polling.

  9. I wonder if the right-of-centrists are so pissed that they are doing everything in their power to vote down the liberals. Hence Ron/Rand Paul supporters are throwing their weight behind Cruz and Trump. Maybe that is my own bias beginning to show....?

    1. No, you're right. Rand ceded his anti-establishment cred by prematurely tacking to the center.

      1. You guys can repeat this all you want. It isn't going to make it anymore true. The notion that there is a more principled candidate in the GOP field who principled libertarian-leaning voters would have flocked to if they some of their own is ridiculous.

  10. Stay in, Rand!

  11. Libertarian. Moment.

    1. Hahahahahaha. How many times did I read that fucking stupid phrase in 2013? Reason, Cato, I think even Stossel...they were all bleating it ad nauseum.

      Not such a moment it appears. Just chub stroking wishful thinking.

      1. I am rewatching I, Claudius right now on Hulu (fantastic mini series about the first few decades of the Roman imperial family), and that libertarian moment crap reminds me of Claudius, Drusus, and other ancient Romans believing the republic was soon going to be restored. Nope. It went on and on and on, until the empire crumbled.

        Hear that, wishful thinking fellow libertarians? The republic is not going to be restored. People love their god damn government. We already have a monarch...we just don't call him that. Look how he's pampered and fussed over, look at his legions of praetorian guards, look at how he passes his own laws ("he" of course is generic and applies to all of them).

        Soup lines, scarce water, and freezing cold are our destiny. You can bet on it...not that your winnings will do you any good in that situation.

  12. "There has never been, as far as I've seen, any actual social science data about Ron Paul voters."
    That's because 10 is not enough for a statistical sample.

  13. Rand is a more conventional / libertarianish republican now, but there are two (better funded) front runners who also fit that bill

    This sort of proves what I suspected all along. The Ron Paulites were always more of an "anti-establishment" crowd. Their non interventionist, pro legalization and anti corporate croynism stance prominently overlapped with libertarians. But they were never classically libertarian. Libertarians don't hate big banks and corporations just because they're powerful.

    Ron Paul was a deceptively cynical and "angry" candidate. The guy spun a lot of conspiracy theories and associated himself with angry white figures. Since his son (for all his substance) has all the personality of a potato, his fans turned to other angry men who could serve as their outlet. Trump and Sanders, apparently.

    1. Rand is a more conventional / libertarianish republican now


      but there are two (better funded) front runners who also fit that bill

      Better funded libertarianish front-runners? Who are you talking about? What qualifies anyone else in the Republican field as libertarianish? I'm not sure when eminent domain abuse, restricted immigration, ethanol subsidies, and perpetual war, became facets of libertarianism.

  14. Rand Paul did OK, as expected. He beat Bush III, Kasich, Christie, Fiorina, etc. He is in the top 5. If he can hang in there in New Hampshire and the others start dropping out, he might start to look more viable, get more attention and consideration, or at least influence the debate and tone of the rest of the primaries.

    Trump losing is a win. Rubio emerging as the clear establishment hope is a win - representing a next generation and slight improvement on individual liberty and limited government over Bush III. Cruz is still an opportunist creep, too unlikeable to make it all the way, but as long as he beats Trump, go Cruz!

    Carson is irrelevant, will fade in New Hampshire.

    This is now between Cruz, Trump, Rubio and Paul. That is not a bad position for Paul and the liberty movement.

  15. WOW what a surprise! Luke warm libertarianism listed! Time to move beyond the Paul franchise reason magazine. And us too.

  16. If the Free State Project cant bring Rand a victory in NH, both are pretty much over.

  17. Paul never really had a chance. That's the problem. He had to "dumb down" to even have whatever shot he had. His dad never really had much of shot and he could fight the good fight (not that I agree with Pappy Paul 100%, either). I am all for compromise, but it has to be understood that the GOP is so far gone that meeting even half way puts you to the left of JFK.

    In other words, we're fucked and there's no real way to do anything about it. About 15% of the people in this country have a clue, and the remaining 85% live in a fantasy world. Everyone having a vote is good and all, but if 85% of the people need a copy of Asswiping for Dummies, things don't work out correctly.

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  19. Rand Paul has already hit his high point in this campaign. He's polling 2-3% in NH and SC. Iowa was his only hope and that's gone.

    Barring a major scandal such as finding out that the Feds are recording complete phone conversations, not just the metadata or another guns-to-ISIS program we have heard the last of Rand Paul.

    The Ron Paul supporters who jumped to Trump were obviously never interested in liberty. They only wanted to annoy or destroy the establishment. There has always been a nihilist strain in the libertarian movement that wants raw chaos rather than liberty. Rothbard himself was always seeing allies in anyone who wanted to fight against the government no matter what their reasons might be.

    The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.

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