Why Ron Paul Probably Won’t Winby Doug Mataconis
Before I get into the meat of this post, let me just make it clear. I like Ron Paul alot, and agree with him on almost every issue — the major expception being immigration where he is, I would submit decidedly non-libertarian.
That being said, I don’t think he has a snowball’s chance in Texas of winning either the Republican nomination for President or a race for the White House against almost any Democratic nominee. James Ostrowski, who I’ve criticized before for his optomistic view of the Paul for President campaign, thinks otherwise and writes today at LewRockwell.com about the reasons he thinks Ron Paul has a chance in 2008:
First, because all the major candidates are deeply flawed.
Second, there are no good Republican candidates other than Ron Paul.
While I agree wholeheartedly with both statements, I don’t think that’s enough to get him over the significant hurdles he faces. As I wrote back in January, the three things that matter most in a Presidential nomination are money, message, and name recognition. McCain, Giuliani, and Romney are going have every other Republican candidate beat when it comes to fund raising, and that is going to give them a tremendous advantage. Second, most Republican primary voters are not going be in sync with Ron Paul’s message. Voting against the war might be popular in a Democratic primary, it is not going to be popular in a Republican primary. Finally, as I noted before, lack of name recognition will be a problem the Ron Paul campaign will need to address.
Third, he would be running against Hillary, which means he starts with an automatic 45 percent of the vote. You only need 49 as Bill taught us.
Fourth, he picks up those extra four points by outflanking Hillary on the war and on other issues that appeal to the left (drug war, financial populism, etc.).
The problem with this is that Clinton won with 43% of the popular vote in 1992 and 49% of the popular vote in 1996, and George W. Bush won with 47% of the popular vote in 2000 because of the presence in those races of third party candidates — Perot in `92 and `96 and Nader in `00 — that had an historically unusual impact on the outcome of the race. Take the third-party factor out of the race, and you have a situation like any other Presidential race where the winner ends up with at least 50.01% of the vote to win.
Also, this doesn’t take into account the fact that the popular vote doesn’t decide elections, just ask Al Gore. I have no idea how the Electoral College might break down if Ron Paul were the Republican nominee.
Ostrowski cites other reasons that he thinks Paul has a chance, including the role of the Internet and the fact that Paul is a better speaker than the other candidates. All of this may be true, but given the handicaps that he faces in the race, assuming that is that he ever officially declares that he’s running for President, I don’t think it will be enough for him to pull it off.
I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think that I am.
Ron Paul For President !
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Further Thoughts On The Ron Paul For President Campaign
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