Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”     Ayn Rand

February 22, 2007

Why Ron Paul Probably Won’t Win

by 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.

Related Posts:

Ron Paul For President !
Ron Paul’s Presidential Chances
Ron Paul Votes For Price Fixing Prescription Drugs
A Moment of Hubris On the Ron Paul For President Campaign
Further Thoughts On The Ron Paul For President Campaign
The Ron Paul Interview
Ron Paul: The Least Malleable Republican
Ron Paul: The Real Republican

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11 Comments

  1. You don’t seem to mention that his strong opinions regarding the Federal Reserve being the root of all evil might make him less favorable than any Republican or Democrat for corporate america. News monopolies will tar and feather him.

    The republican voters have been trained to respond to all the non-issues that Paul doesn’t want to waste his time with, I can’t imagine him spitting out sound bites that will appease the typical red stater on gays, abortion, the war on terra, evil mexicans, Iran, etc.

    But, that said, I’d vote for him and I’m a farther left than Nancy Pelosi Democrat – based on what I’ve read so far…

    Ron Paul for President – no war with Iraq/n, no Federal Reserve, legalize pot, getting the govt off the backs of the people instead of off the backs of corporations – holy crapple this starting to sound like what the founders intended – sounds good so far.

    This is a theory I have – that political leanings are not a flat line left/right but reall more of a loop and when you go way left or way right you end up in basically the same place – a non-authoritarian place with fewer differences from each other than from those people who congregate near the status-quo maintaining center.

    Comment by Ann E. Mouse — February 22, 2007 @ 2:10 pm
  2. The most prominent living libertarian intellectual, Hans Hoppe doesn’t believe ‘immigration’, federally directed, is anything more than tresspassing, often used to pit groups against one another with the State stepping in as the arbiter of spoils. Same with Murray Rothbard regarding immigration; or the late Milton Freidman who pointed out the obvious, immigration and the welfare state does not work. Which libertarians are you referring to?

    Comment by C Bowen — February 22, 2007 @ 4:44 pm
  3. Regarding the possibility of Ron Paul winning the GOP presidential nomination and the general election: just remember the “Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

    Sometimes the competitor without a snowball’s chance in Texas does win. 8-)

    Comment by Ken H — February 22, 2007 @ 7:49 pm
  4. I would actually liken Mr. Paul somewhat to Howard Dean. Initially Howard Dean wasn’t given much of any chance to win his nomination. He didn’t have the big check fundraising or the name recognition. As far as issues he was a little out of the mainstream of the other competitors as well. He did very well and if his mouth and the powers to be in the party didn’t get in the way he likely would have won the democratic nomination.

    You are right, on the surface Mr. Paul doesn’t have much of a chance, but if there is a ground swell of support for him much in the same fashion as for Howard Dean look out, because Mr. Paul is a far better communicator than Mr. Dean and from an issue standpoint there is a lot to like about him from both the right and the left (granted there are some things that both the right and left don’t like as well).

    I think his chaces all hinge on him getting that iniital ground swell of support fairly early that may propel him to the forefront. Once he is there he may not relinquish the frontrunner status. It is a longshot but definitely possible.

    Comment by TerryP — February 23, 2007 @ 11:07 am
  5. Ron Paul will win–he’s right on the issues first for Republican primary voters (pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax, anti-big government) and with voters overall (pro-privacy, anti-corporate welfare, anti-war). You need to check your premises: half of likely Republican primary voters in Iowa want us out of Iraq! The warmongers are going down.

    http://www.politics1.com/index.htm
    Interestingly, 48% of Republican respondents said they favored “a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months” — versus 37% opposed the idea. By contrast, Democrats favored withdrawal by a 64-9 margin. These pro-withdrawal numbers could bode ill in Iowa for candidates in both parties who either are pro-surge or waffle on Iraq.

    Comment by Bradley J — February 23, 2007 @ 4:23 pm
  6. Listen up. Libertarians are so idiotic sometimes. Ron Paul represents 95% of what the most hard core libertarian believes and yet he’s not good enough because he’s not 100%. So what other choice does the Libertarian party offer?

    Why not get off your high horse and support the candidate who at least has a chance to make it. Printing articles about how he’s not going to win is not only unproductive, but completely useless because you don’t have a better choice in mind.

    I used to consider myself Libertarian, but that party just doesn’t get it that life isn’t black and white. Sometimes you’ll have to accept “close enough” over “exactly”.

    Comment by Ok... — February 23, 2007 @ 6:18 pm
  7. No matter. It’s time for people to stand up for integrity. What if we all change our political affiliation to Independent? Then the major parties could not assume they had X numbers secure in the pocket. I like Ron Paul. We don’t agree on everything, but this is a man with integrity and courage. I hope those traits are never corrupted. He’s intelligent, has a view toward the future when our children will be grown, and is apparently a man who has a long-term view — and it’s not one of greed but one of virtues.

    Comment by eleanor — February 24, 2007 @ 12:41 am
  8. Well one quick stop in NH and he picks up $14K, that ought to tell you something!

    Comment by Jane — February 27, 2007 @ 1:06 am
  9. Ron Paul may not be everyone’s first choice, but I think he still has a great shot at being the nominee as everyone’s second choice. As Michael Badnarik said in his speech on Feb. 23rd at the NH Liberty Forum, Ron Paul is a man everyone trusts. You may not agree with him on everything, but you know where he stands.

    That he has been elected, and re-elected in an agricultural district while telling farmers he would NEVER vote for subsidies, proves that integrity still counts.

    Comment by Joy — February 27, 2007 @ 8:39 am
  10. It’s a non-issue. You should vote for the best man, and if he’s running I’ll vote for him, even as a write in. If everyone voted for people they actually wanted to win instead of who they thought was going to win, we wouldn’t end up with losers like Bush.

    Comment by Sean Straus — March 3, 2007 @ 6:16 pm
  11. i know a huge Ron Paul supporter is swearing if Ron Paul wins he will revese the Lousinanna purchase because it is unconstitutional, no joke this is stone cold nuts….

    Comment by Mad Monky — March 6, 2007 @ 9:08 pm

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