Ron Paul’s Presidential Chances

With today’s announcement that Ron Paul is running for president, speculation will begin almost immediately about Ron Paul’s chances for getting the Republican nomination. The conventional wisdom is that Ron Paul has no chance in hell. The conventional wisdom in this case, may be wrong and underestimating Paul’s chances. Here’s why:

1) There is no limited government candidate in the Republican primary right now, though if (although it’s unlikely) Newt Gingrich or if South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford enter the race, that could change.

2) Ron Paul can appeal to most wings of the Republican party from the Buchanan-Tancredo paleoconservatives (immigration and trade) to the libertarian (stances on federalism and spending) and moderate wings (opposition to Iraq War) to even some measure of acceptability from social conservatives (pro-life and anti-gay marriage). The only wing Paul may have problems with, ironically, is the Chamber of Commerce crowd who disagrees with Paul on everything from immigration to trade. Also, the Chamber of Commerce crowd has no vested interest in limited government since big government and the threat of big government allows them to buy our “leaders” at will.

3) Ron Paul will have a grassroots organization out of the various libertarian and limited government activists in many, if not most, primary states; especially the home of the Free State Project (which is the first primary).

Now Ron Paul’s two major drawbacks will be:

1) Lack of big money donors. Although he will receive many small contributions to offset.

2) Lack of name recognition, though this will change after the first debate in May.

I wouldn’t write Ron Paul off just yet.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
  • Tim

    Hi Kevin,

    Paul’s chances accrue with the anti-war wing of the Democrat party. Check out on any given week & their constant thumbs up to Paul. Also look up Paul’s voting record & see how many more Democrats vote with him on most issues, versus Republicans who seek to isolate him & shut him up while never supporting his bills in committee.

    New Hampshire, get your electorate out for smaller government…Paul is your dream guy…

  • Kevin

    Paul’s chances accrue with the anti-war wing of the Democrat party.

    I disagree because the anti-war wing sees opposition to the war as part of a greater social justice agenda which includes universal healthcare, going after “big business”, income equality, and other socialist nonsense. Ron Paul can’t support that agenda.

    Check out on any given week & their constant thumbs up to Paul.

    I would hope the self-described libertarians at give him thumbs up.

    Also look up Paul’s voting record & see how many more Democrats vote with him on most issues, versus Republicans who seek to isolate him & shut him up while never supporting his bills in committee.

    Funny how the Democrats, when they targeted his seat last year, claimed he voted 74% with the Republican leadership. The Democrats and Ron Paul agree on “fair trade”, opposition to the war, and certain civil liberties issues.

  • Tim

    Hi Kevin, Thanks for the debate. I am enclosing the following post, and would appreciate your comments. Sorry for the length of it, but it is quite detailed. I grant you, that the people who vote WITH Paul are from the radical left, & that’s who I think we might siphon off votes from in the democrat party and might go with Paul, though I of course realize that these voters will more than likely be knee jerk non-thinking democrats only. Let me know what you think, or if this information is totally false. I am from Montana, & our Rep. Denny Reberg, who is a member of Paul’s Liberty Caucus consistently, even constantly, votes opposite of Paul to my utter dismay. Which is the reason I searched out information on the Liberty Caucus voting records. Thanks to Logan Ferree at the link below who did the research. t

    Scorecard of Ron Paul’s Liberty Committee Submitted by LoganFerree on Tue, 2005-12-20 11:01. Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) is often presented as a major reason why many libertarians associate with the Republican Party. There have been many times when I have attempted to convince a libertarian to affiliate with the Democratic Party and they have responded with the line, “Both of the parties aren’t very libertarian. But the Republicans have Ron Paul. Who do the Democrats have?” It is hard to attack Ron Paul’s libertarian credentials; he is a former Libertarian Presidential candidate and has one of the most ideologically consistent voting records. My best attempts at offering up Democratic politicians suitable to libertarians tend to fail when they compare him to Ron Paul.
    The perception that Republicans are more open to libertarian ideas is further created by Ron Paul’s Liberty Caucus. The Liberty Caucus, made up of 23 Republicans in addition to Ron Paul and no Democratic members, gives the impression that there are other Republicans out there that, while not as ideologically consistent, at least tend to support an agenda consistent with a more conservative-libertarian outlook. There is also a Liberty Committee that sends out action alerts to political activists encouraging them to urge their Representatives to vote with Ron Paul on certain bills and amendments.
    As a libertarian activist, I am subscribed to this mailing list. Activity reached a peak during the summer of 2005 as CAFTA moved through Congress. Although ideologically in support of free trade, Ron Paul and many other libertarians viewed the treaty as undermining American sovereignty and creating a managed trade system that would benefit multinational corporations. The Liberty Committee urged individuals to contact their Senators and Representatives and tell them to oppose CAFTA.
    The final vote in the House, a narrow 217 to 215, was of great interest to me. It was then that out of curiosity I decided to look at how the members of the Liberty Caucus voted. I was surprised to find that only 8 members, including Ron Paul, voted against CAFTA. One did not vote. I continued to do some additional research with two other bills identified by the Liberty Committee as key votes and found again that the majority Liberty Caucus was not voting with Ron Paul. After posting my findings to my Freedom Democrats blog, I set this aside in my mind with the intention of coming back at the end of the first session of the 109th Congress to investigate further.
    Now I’m back and the results are in. I went back through the various action alerts over the past year to find all of the votes specifically mentioned. In total there were eleven, although one was passage of an amendment through voice vote and was not recorded. We are left with ten votes in which Ron Paul and his Liberty Committee made a clear signal that there was a key vote. I do not think it is unusual to expect the members of the Liberty Caucus to vote with Ron Paul most of the time on these votes. Here is what actually happened. Before listing the ten votes, I would like to make a clear note. This scorecard is not a reflection of my political views or of Freedom Democrats in general. It is simply matching the rhetoric of Ron Paul and his Liberty Committee with the actual results of his Liberty Caucus.
    H. R. 418. REAL ID Act. February 10, 2005. Passed 261 to 161. Ron Paul voted NO.
    H. R. 841. Continuity in Representation Act. March 3, 2005. Passed 329 to 68. Ron Paul voted YES.
    H. R. 1268. Emergency Supplemental Appropriations. March 16, 2005. Passed 388 to 43. Ron Paul voted NO.
    H. J. Res. 27. Withdrawing from the WTO. June 9, 2005. Rejected 86 to 338. Ron Paul voted YES.
    Amendment to H. R. 2862 to withdraw from the UN. June 16, 2005. Rejected 65 to 357. Ron Paul voted YES.
    H. R. 2745. UN Reform Act. June 17, 2005. Passed 221 to 184. Ron Paul voted NO.
    Amendment to H. R. 3010 banning funding of mandatory mental screenings of children. June 24, 2005. Rejected 97 to 304. Ron Paul voted YES.
    DR-CAFTA Act. July 28, 2005. Passed 217 to 215. Ron Paul voted NO.
    S. 397. Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. October 20, 2005. Passed 283 to 144. Ron Paul voted NO.
    Conference Report. USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act. Passed 251 to 174. Ron Paul voted NO.
    Only 7 members of the 22 other members in the Liberty Caucus voted with Ron Paul most of the time in the above key votes. Two Congressmen, Virgil Goode of Virginia and Butch Otter of Idaho, voted with Ron Paul on six of the ten votes. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, John Duncan of Tennessee, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, John Hostettler of Indiana, and Tom Tancredo of Colorado, voted with Ron Paul on five of the ten votes. The remaining 15 Congressmen did not even vote with Ron Paul half of the time. Steven Chabot of Ohio, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Ric Keller of Florida, Jack Kingston of Georgia, Dennis Rehberg of Montana, John Shadegg of Arizona, and Zach Wamp of Tennessee voted with Ron Paul on only two of the ten votes in the scorecard.
    When looking at all of the members of the House of Representatives, do any stand out as consistently voting with Ron Paul on these ten votes? Two Democrats voted with Ron Paul eighty percent of the time: Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. Thirty-three other Democrats, too long to list here, voted with Ron Paul seven times out of ten, more than any member of the Liberty Caucus. Even Bernie Sanders, professing a socialist ideology, voted with Ron Paul on seven of the ten votes.
    Check out the attachment for the full scorecard. Congressmen in blue are members of the Liberty Caucus.
    What is going on here? Looking at the votes, I think we can place them into categories. The REAL ID Act and the Patriot Act clearly are protection of civil liberties and it’s arguable that Ron Paul’s amendment dealing with banning federal funding of mandatory child mental screenings falls under this as well. H. R. 841 is largely a constitutional and procedural matter. We then have three votes (CAFTA and pulling out of UN and WTO) that I could call paleo-isolationism. Isolationists of both the left and the right could hypothetically agree here and a handful did. Throw in the Emergency Supplemental, which was full of pork, and it’s hard to argue with the list of votes.
    Only two votes stand out: Ron Paul’s opposition to the UN Reform Act and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Read the links to see why the Liberty Committee opposed them. In each case, Ron Paul found himself voting with most Democrats and the Republicans that voted with him tended to be the moderate members, not fellow conservative-libertarians. I’ve actually recalculated the scorecard without these two votes and the results are still interesting. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia still come out on top, voting with Ron Paul on six out of the eight times. But they are joined by Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Butch Otter of Idaho, a member of the Liberty Caucus.
    I must repeat that this scorecard is not a representation of my views or of Freedom Democrats. It is simply a scorecard based on the key votes identified by the Liberty Committee in the past year. And I would argue that it is strongly tilted towards votes concerning civil liberties, sovereignty, and upholding the general principles of the Constitution. As I have argued in the past, these are the key areas where Democrats have clearly and consistently shown that they are better than Republicans. The Liberty Committee rarely placed an emphasis on economic and fiscal votes as being the key votes. The scorecard reflects that, but that was not my decision.
    Trackback URL for this post: Attachment Size

  • Tim

    a link to the above for easier reading

  • Alex Peak

    His support for DOMA and his stance on immigration are two issues that I hold disagreement with Paul, but regardless, I would jump at the chance to vote for him.

  • Kevin


    I can make a clear cut libertarian case only for Ron Paul’s votes on REAL ID, Mental Screenings, and Patriot Act reauthorization. The rest of those votes, good libertarians can disagree on.

  • _NH

    Ron Paul is our man…he’s got my vote already.

  • LoganFerree

    My two cents, since my scorecard of the Liberty Caucus has been brought up.

    On the votes that the Liberty Caucus decided mattered, Democrats were more likely to vote with Ron Paul than Republicans.

    However, as I tried to make clear, for whatever reason the Liberty Caucus tended to focus on votes related to civil liberties and foreign policy.

    Although Bush and the Republicans have been big spenders over the last few years, I think any libertarian would agree that their worst offensives have been on the issues of civil liberties and foreign policy.

    Ron Paul has a lot of respect from anti-war Democrats. At the same time, Democrats who are Democrats for other reasons (largely pro-union activists) and are anti-war because they are anti-Bush tend to hate him.

    New Hampshire will be interesting. Democrats will have already had Iowa and Nevada to cut down on their candidates. That means there could be fewer Democratic candidates in the running by the time the New Hampshire primary is held. With independents able to pick what primary to vote in, if the Democratic primary is already shaping up to be a landslide for (insert Democrat), independents may be more willing to vote in the Republican Party and support the more insurgent Ron Paul.

    I’m wishing Ron Paul the best of luck.

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  • Freddy

    Ron Paul is the thinking mans candidate!
    Sadly, the masses are a**es:(
    Ron Paul co-authored H.R. 1146 106th congress.
    That bill would have returned USA to honest constitutional banking. This issue is one of the reasons why JFK, RFK, McKinley and four other Presidents were executed. If Ron Paul is to survive to election day we need to have round the clock security made of honest men. Can such men be found? Where did Diagones go with that lamp of his? Freddy

  • Freddy

    I made a mistake.
    The bill was H.R. 1142 106th congress.

  • Freddy

    Hi All,
    I’m on meds and getting old.I’m not always correct, but, I’m the best you’ll find on such short notice;) Here is the text I lifted from Freddy

    Paul Introduces Honest Money Act

    Washington, DC- Congressman Ron Paul, a leading advocate of sound money policies and an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve, recently introduced legislation to repeal legal tender laws. The Honest Money Act, HR 2779, would eliminate forced tender laws that compel Americans to accept fiat irredeemable paper-ticket or electronic money as their unit of account.

    Absent government intervention through legal tender laws, individuals acting through the market decide what they will use as money. Historically, the free market has chosen some combination of gold and silver whenever they were available. As Dr. Edwin Vieira, the nation’s top expert on constitutional money, stated: “A free market functions most efficiently and most fairly when the market determines the quality and the quantity of money that’s being used.”

    When government creates fiat money out of thin air, the purchasing power of existing dollars falls. Fiat money erodes the value of savings, and is especially harmful to those living on fixed incomes. Paul believes centralized planning in monetary affairs is as harmful as centralized planning in economic affairs.

    “Fiat money is widely accepted only because of legal tender laws,” Paul stated. “Throughout the 20th century, the legal tender power enabled politicians to fool the American public into believing the dollar no longer meant a weight of gold or silver. Instead, the government told the people that the dollar now meant a piece of government-issued paper backed up by nothing except the promises of the government to maintain a stable value of currency. Of course, history shows that the word of the government (to protect the value of the dollar) is literally not worth the paper it is printed on.”

    “While legal tender laws harm ordinary citizens, they work to the advantage of large banks,” Paul continued. “Banks have been improperly granted the special privilege of creating fiat irredeemable electronic money out of thin air through fractional reserve lending. According to the Federal Reserve, since 1950 these private companies (banks) have created almost $8 trillion out of nothing. This has been enormously advantageous to them.”

    Repeal of legal tender laws will help restore constitutional government and protect the people’s right to a medium of exchange chosen by the market, thereby protecting their current purchasing power as well as their pensions, savings, and other promises of future payment. Honest money serves the needs of ordinary people; fiat irredeemable paper-ticket electronic money improperly transfers the wealth of society to a small privileged financial elite. Paul’s legislation simply seeks to offer Americans a choice between fiat money and traditional stores like gold and silver.

  • Doug Mataconis


    As much as I’d like to think otherwise, Ron Paul doesn’t really have a chance of getting the GOP nomination.

    Money is going to be his biggest problem. Absent some miracle, he simply isn’t going to be able to compete with the fundraising ability of guys like McCain and Guliani.

    Which leads to his second problem…..

    Without money, his message will get to most of the voting public primary through the media. As that Post article I linked to shows, I think the media will cover him simply for the entertainment value of finding an anti-war Republican, but it will be the same type of coverage they give to guys like Dennis Kucinich.

    That said, what Congressman Paul does have the potential ability to do is influence the debate and bring attention to issues the other candidates aren’t going to talk about. That alone will make his candidacy worthwhile.

  • Charles McCarrron

    Ron Paul has two big drawbacks, corporate media has no stake in presenting him as anything but a spoiler and to paraphrase what the other guy said, most people are incapable of thinking at a higher level than the Simpsons.

  • Kevin

    Money is going to be his biggest problem. Absent some miracle, he simply isn’t going to be able to compete with the fundraising ability of guys like McCain and Guliani.

    If Paul’s smart, he’ll do what Howard Dean did, tap into the internet and the grassroots activists and overwhelm the other guys with millions of small donations.

    That said, what Congressman Paul does have the potential ability to do is influence the debate and bring attention to issues the other candidates aren’t going to talk about. That alone will make his candidacy worthwhile.

    That would be success alone. Imagine Guiliani, McCain, or Romney being forced to move toward limited government.

  • Bryan

    Newt Gingrich for limited government? Really? Are we talking about the same guy who recently endorsed granting power to the government to limit free speech to fight the so-called “war on terrorism”?


    Ron Paul has my vote- if not him then who? Don’t listen to the naysayers – we can make a difference.

  • George Whitfield

    Ron Paul’s candidacy is great news. I will support him and wish him the best.

  • Kevin


    The only problem is, Newt never suggested such a thing. He was referring to taking the threats of terrorists seriously.

  • Bryan

    Kevin, per your link Newt clearly says “that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous” – so what are these “dangerous” web sites going to do, cause your computer to explode when you visit them? Collate your IP address with your ISP to mail you a bomb? Exactly how are they dangerous?

    I grant you that weak minded people can become dangerous after reading certain material but that doesn’t make the speech itself dangerous. Can we agree that speech doesn’t hurt anyone and it in itself is not “dangerous”?

    I’m not saying that as a society we need to approve and celebrate websites that advocate the killing of Americans, but shutting them down leads us down the wrong path of giving power to the subjective whims of corruptible men. Checks and balances only go so far due to the convergence of self interests. In part, fear of the convergence of self interests of the aristocratic combination lead to the First Amendment to be unambiguous in stating “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” – that is, NO LAW. They knew that speech was not dangerous, only the suppression of it in whatever forms it may be.

    Of course, we certainly aren’t following the intent of the First Amendment today with the wide array of anti-free speech laws on the books, hate crime laws promise to be another excuse for more governmental power.

    Newt’s comments clearly illustrate his state of mind – that of big government, worse, he’s using fear as a vehicle to promote his agenda.

    Hope this reads well, thanks for your postings.

  • Kevin


    Of course I would oppose the closing down of websites that expouse “anti-American views”, because that phrase would be so broadly defined.

  • John


    Covertly “broadly defined” is what Congress does best, such as the perceived limitations placed on the RICO statute that now have miraculously expanded beyond our wildest dreams.

    For more info see: Constitution of the United States of America

    For even more info see: the nine senile men and one woman in robes without any check or balance on their opinions and authority over the laws of this land.

  • Kevin


    Of course, look at the expansions of the Federal government beyond its limits in Article 1 Section 8.

  • Doug Mataconis


    I didn’t say that Paul couldn’t have an impact on the campaign or on the public policy debate, I just don’t think its realistic to hold out hope that he has any chance of winning the nomination.

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  • Slipgrid

    I like his chances. He’s getting a large amount of support from both sides. I doubt the MSM will give him any love, but on the Internets, he is huge. He has my vote.

  • A F Feldbush

    With a lot of unhappy people looking for a reasonable alternative to what has been experienced on the political scene, I think Ron Paul has a great chance. Those who agree cannot expect to receive help from the liberal media, so the internet is the way to go. Let’s get out those emails and start the grassroot support early.

  • Willy

    I’m voting for Ron Paul. I’ll campaign for Ron Paul. But Ron Paul doesn’t have a skunks chance in a perfume factory. He doesn’t have name recognition in Texas, much less Timbuktu. Maybe he can influence debate but to those who aren’t prepared, yeah, it’s like talking to the Simpsons. This is all too bad because change is way overdue.

    The most LibT’s could hope for is enough third party to break a majority choke hold on congress.

    Freedom willing.