Explaining Ron Paul’s Online Appeal

Ron Paul may be an also-ran in the race for the Republican nomination, but he’s pretty big online and the Washington Post, in a remarkably positive front page article, takes a look at the phenomenon:

On Technorati, which offers a real-time glimpse of the blogosphere, the most frequently searched term this week was “YouTube.”

Then comes “Ron Paul.”

The presence of the obscure Republican congressman from Texas on a list that includes terms such as “Sopranos,” “Paris Hilton” and “iPhone” is a sign of the online buzz building around the long-shot Republican presidential hopeful — even as mainstream political pundits have written him off.

Rep. Ron Paul is more popular on Facebook than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He’s got more friends on MySpace than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. His MeetUp groups, with 11,924 members in 279 cities, are the biggest in the Republican field. And his official YouTube videos, including clips of his three debate appearances, have been viewed nearly 1.1 million times — more than those of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, except Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

No one’s more surprised at this robust Web presence than Paul himself, a self-described “old-school,” “pen-and-paper guy” who’s serving his 10th congressional term and was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president in 1988.

“To tell you the truth, I hadn’t heard about this YouTube and all the other Internet sites until supporters started gathering in them,” confessed Paul, 71, who said that he’s raised about $100,000 after each of the three debates. Not bad considering that his campaign had less than $10,000 when his exploratory committee was formed in mid-February. “I tell you I’ve never raised money as efficiently as that, in all my years in Congress, and all I’m doing is speaking my mind.”

That means saying again and again that the Republican Party, especially when it comes to government spending and foreign policy, is in “shambles.”

As the Post notes, Ron Paul is far behind even the middle of the pack in the Republican race, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming the rally point for a vocal group of supporters:

After the second Republican presidential debate last month, when Paul implied that American foreign policy has contributed to anti-Americanism in the Middle East — “They attack us because we’re over there. We’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years,” Paul said — he was attacked by Giuliani, and conservatives such as Saul Anuzis were livid. Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan GOP, threatened to circulate a petition to bar Paul from future Republican presidential debates. Though the petition never materialized, Anuzis’s BlackBerry was flooded with e-mails and his office was inundated with calls for several days. “It was a distraction, no doubt,” he said.

The culprits: Paul’s growing number of supporters, some of whom posted Anuzis’s e-mail address and office phone number on their blogs.

“At first I was skeptical of his increasing online presence, thinking that it’s probably just a small cadre of dedicated Ron Paul fans,” said Matt Lewis, a blogger and director of operations at Townhall, a popular conservative site. “But if you think about it, the number one issue in the country today is Iraq. If you’re a conservative who supports the president’s war, you have nine candidates to choose from. But if you’re a conservative who believes that going into Iraq was a mistake, Ron Paul is the only game in town.”

Added Terry Jeffrey, the syndicated newspaper columnist who ran Patrick J. Buchanan’s failed White House bid in 1996: “On domestic issues like spending and taxation and the role of government, Ron Paul is saying exactly what traditional conservatives have historically thought, and he’s pointing out that the Bush administration has walked away from these principles. That’s a very attractive argument.”

And the fact that it’s not attracting more support from so-called conservatives says alot about what it really means to be a Republican today.

  • Ann

    It’s going to take a lot of money to go up against the bought and paid for corporate hacks. Folks Donate something/anything to Dr. Pauls campaign. Ann

  • Dan

    The so-called “Ron Paul supporters” are just Democrats or foreigners who are trying to use the internet to an anti-Iraq-War Republican the nomination. This way both parties would have candidates who were anti-Iraq War. If they succeeded in their aims they would abandon Ron Paul and vote for the Democratic candidate. Look at the empty rhetoric they throw around. Do any of them support the imprisonment of women who have abortions? Do any of them support the end of the IRS and the end of entitlement programs? Do any of them support letting mentally deranged people like the killer in Virgina Tech own guns?

    As far as I’m concerned they’re putting together a pretty treacherous, though organized effort. Luckily for us, they’ll stop annoying us soon. By being part of this cause, they’re likely to have very short attention spans and there’s a long way to go.

  • http://libertypapers.org scott

    Ron Paul is the only real conservative running on the Republican ticket. While there may be some Dems supporting him, it is the ultra-conservative right wing extremists like me who are driving his campaign. God help this country if we elect another big government president like Bush or worse, Hillary. Ron Paul’s positions are all based on sound reasoning and good logic.

  • Tim

    I love it when people try and bash Ron Paul as part of some conspiracy and the fans are some covert democrat plan to ruin the Republican party. Why not talk about his politics, why not tell us why Ron Paul isn’t good for this country, why not tell us who is better and why. I will tell you why he has a perfect voting record as a conservative, he has a perfect background in both economy and foreign relations being on the many different committee’s that deal with these vary subjects. Republicans who use the simpleton approach are a funny breed of people. Still staying the course with a failed everything policy, take your pick. We need change, We need RON PAUL.

  • Tim


    I believe you meant to say that the neo-cons as epitomized by George W. Bush & Rudy McRomney are the Democrats. If so, you are in fact correct. These types of folks (& their supporters) are rejects from the far left wing of the Democratic Party who have infiltated the Republican Party & almost destroyed its self-government ideals & replaced them with what they’ve always said the Democrats would do if elected: blow up the size & scope of every government activity in our lives. In fact, the Bush years & the Republican majority have been a fast track towards everything the far left has always attempted to do, but has never been able to implement except in increments.

    Luckily Ron Paul is holding a candle to the hurricane force wind of these political contortionists.

    The second American Revolution is being led & lit by this candle & we, the people, are mobilizing behind the carrier of it & its messanger of hope: Ron Paul.

  • Matt C

    “Do any of them support letting mentally deranged people like the killer in Virgina Tech own guns?”

    This is a pretty telling comment. Consider:
    To forbid the “mentally derange” from owning guns or doing anything else, *someone has to decide who is mentally deranged and who isn’t.

    There is considerable support in the established media and party system for the notion that Ron Paul supporters are all mentally deranged. Using the VA Tech tragedy as a pretext, it wouldn’t be difficult to deprive them (and any other people who question these established powers) of their right to bear arms.

    Would that be good?

  • Darel99


    I find the thoughts of some misguided so called conservative republican to suggest Ron Pauls supporters are democrats to be simply ridiculous.

    The facts suggest Ron Paul is adored by many true conservatives, democrats, independents, etc.

    I voted for Bush both times or should i say I was fooled twice by Bush. Not this time I have actually read details about each candidate, I have attended four other Republican presidential candidates events as well as two democratic hopefuls.

    Ron Paul’s support is growing and growing. For those stupid republican’s who can’t see the forest for the trees and notice that Pauls supporters will cross party lines just to vote for Paul then our republican party would serve itself well to embrace Paul so we can beat “Billary”

    In my view Ron Paul is the only option.

  • jwerner

    You do not understand Ron Paul or the US Constitution. No one thinks than nuts need guns and I have never read or heard Dr. Paul say that women who have abortions should be thrown in jail. (They can be thrown in jail now if it is done after a certain point)so you are making things up here. The fact is that the gun bill you are talking about contained more than you think and the wording is very lose.
    The gun bill that Dr. Paul voted NO on said that anyone who has “mental problems” or has been arrested for or suspected of drug use could be denied. I do not think the government should be in the business of deciding who has mental problems. By this logic anyone who holds different ideas can be identified as having “mental problems”
    So Dan are you a pro choice, anti-gun, big government republican? Can you say NEOCON = Democrat telling lies. At least Democrats say they want higher taxes and higher spending and want to take away guns. Neo Cons just talk smaller government and conservative values and have delivered us a socialist military dictatorship. Any other republican is doomed in 08. Wake up! ron Paul is the only true conservative in the race.

  • Bill Roarken

    Anyone who does not vote for Ron Paul is, by definition, voting for a communist society, as planned by the Council on Foreign Relations. Look at what they’ve done to Europe — an umbrella EU Constitution that’s in the works, that will destroy each country’s sovereignty.

    The CFR and World Bank are backed by what is essentially communists, because the world terrorism threat is fueled by an unwillingness for diplomacy and trade, and a desire for corporate control and war profits. They want One World Government at all costs. They don’t want anyone to have the ability to vote on any of this.

    This is a power grab, plain and simple. A few elitists want to run the world. Are we going to let them do this?

    KEEP RECORDS ON RON PAUL’S OPPOSITION: Those who openly support the North American Union or One World Government are supporters of communism. We need to know who these people are. These people should be in prison.

  • winter32842

    Is the only true conservative; all other are neo-cons.

  • http://www.connellybarnes.com/ Connelly Barnes

    One other reason that Ron Paul may be popular online is because the medium of the Internet inherently favors politicians expressing reasons for their opinions rather than only emotional appeals and spin which are found on television. The argument for this is basically that on the Internet you can look at what you choose and the primary means of discourse on the Internet is textual discussion coupled with videos: because you don’t have a captive audience, flash and sound bites no longer serve as well for conveying “messages,” especially when the audience expects thoughtful textual commentary.

    I hope I’m correct in this. If true, then I think the Internet is a better medium than television because it throws us back towards the Enlightenment idea that politicians should provide reasons rather than just emotional appeals. That is, maybe politics will grow up a little with the help of the Internet.

  • Tom Adinolfi


  • Seer


    I don’t think your conspiracy theory makes any sense (few do). Why would the Democrats want an anti-war Republican as the nominee? That would eliminate the Democrats’ biggest advantage over the Republicans in 2008. Trust me, an anti-war Republican is the last thing they want to see.

  • Proud American

    What we need to do:
    1. DONATE To Ron Paul
    2. Join Meetup Group
    3. Tell Everyone
    4. Go Back to 1.

    Ron Paul will be the NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. And I have been a Republican for most of my life. I was ready to go 3rd party until Congressman Paul showed up.

  • http://demidog.blogspot.com Rick

    The Internet while being a perfect place to propagandize an issue is also a great place to deconstruct propaganda and mindless slogans.

    I think that the majority of Paul’s supporters are made up of folks who have been spending alot of their on-line activity researching issues of liberty. Many of Ron’s newfound supporters (read younger) discovered him serendipitously.

    The real challenge is going to be how to keep this momentum going and make it translate into persuasion.

    We have to remember that alot of the folks who still believe in the Bush agenda are still subject to neocon slogans. But they are *not* evil. It would be a terrible mistake to dehumanize those who support other GOP candidates.

    Keep telling yourself that. Ron Paul never treats his detractors with disrespect or disdain. He doesn’t personalize. And that’s what we as his supporters have to emulate lest we do him a grave disservice. Anyone can be educated. People are not inherently stupid. Misguided perhaps.

    Even though Iraq is in fact the main issue that will drive Ron Paul to success, it will be the biggest wedge between current GOP faithful and Ron Paul supporters.

    In general, the current neocon thinking is that they are in a veto-proof majority and everyone else is thinking crazy. This isn’t going to change by beating them down. Best to leave them alone. Some will have the intellectual honesty to consider Ron Paul’s position. Give them the time to do this on their own.

    The people that Ron Paul’s supporters need to reach first are those who have given up on politics.

    The beauty of Ron Paul’s candidacy at this point is his past record of achievements. It is what gives people hope. He has succeeded already 10 times in prior elections. And once elected he never wavered from his principles.

  • Daniel J.


    You say that Bush and Guiliani are “are rejects from the far left wing of the Democratic Party who have infiltated the Republican Party.”

    Thats so ridiculous. You voted for these neocons, so stop pretending that they’re from the left. There rightwing fascists. There nothing like progressives. You’re frankly an idiot. Own up to you’re poor judgement.

  • uhm

    The neocons came out of the Democrat party.

    [i]Liberals first applied the “neo” prefix to their comrades who broke ranks to become more conservative in the 1960s and 70s. The defectors remained more liberal on some domestic policy issues. But foreign policy stands have always defined neoconservatism. Where other conservatives favored détente and containment of the Soviet Union, neocons pushed direct confrontation, which became their raison d’etre during the 1970s and 80s.[/i]


  • j

    Yes the some neocons where rejects from liberality
    like the guy who writes in Commentary who was depicted in that move where actor McCarthy(HA!) is running down the highway yelling “THERE HERE!” “YOU’VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING!!!” Alas, no one listened and the “POD PEOPLE” did take over and only now are citizens waking up to see that the organized ignorant who look like you and me have made a horror show of the Middle East and fully intend to “accidentally” allow another terrorist attack in this country so that their pathetic candidates have a fighting chance in 08.

  • http://ronpaulforum.com Ron Paul Forum

    Ron Paul is our last chance at keeping America free. God help us if someone like Hillary or Rudy get into the whitehouse.

    Don’t forget to join the troops on the Ron Paul Forum at http://ronpaulforum.com