Can Ron Paul’s Army put him over the top?
More than a few observers have predicted a strong enough caucus day turnout for Ron Paul to push him far above his statistical level of Republican support – perhaps he’ll even come in first, some have speculated. These are the unscientific projections of various credible political observers, based on gut primarily, and on daily scrutiny of the pre-caucus activity. Disclaimer issued.
But two facts bolster these predictions. First, the GOP candidates have been damn scarce in Nevada, giving the media little to cover, and forcing likely Silver State caucusers to make their judgments from afar. Second, Saturday’s Republican “preference poll” results will depend on who shows up. Ron Paul’s Army intends to show up.
Washoe County GOP Chair Heidi Smith says her office was inundated prior to the party’s December 19th registration deadline with Paul party-switchers preparing to caucus for him. Chris Hansen, who chairs the state’s Independent American party says a large number of IAP party members have changed their registration in order to support Paul. Hansen’s also had numerous contacts with Democrats doing likewise.
Paul’s avid support has been attributed to the internet, but it’s also the fruit of 35 years of Libertarian activism, simply conferred upon whomever has the stamina to elbow his way into the spotlight with the message. While his years as a Texas congressman certainly lend gravitas, Pauls’ not a commanding or charismatic candidate. He’s a smart and pleasant man, but no particular personality trait of Paul’s, except persistence and energy, can be credited with the passionate support for him.
Undeserved success is generally punished in politics. (The Reasonable Reporter uses the word advisedly, understanding the fury of the Paul supporters, who are sensitive to the dismissive attitude of the media toward their candidate. Ron Paul’s Army would lash out at the use of the word, pointing out his commitment to constitutional principle, and his performance in congress, which demonstrates it. Duly noted.)
“Undeserved success” is a marketing term, and it isn’t pejorative. It refers to incidental gains coming from peripheral market segments for reasons not explicit in the original plan. In politics, it might mean success not garnered through the traditional route, and not recognized by the sanctioning body.
In general, the likelier candidates come down hard on the successful dark horse as he begins to eat into their numbers. Paul says this happened earlier in the month when an old story resurfaced about a newsletter with racially bigoted content published by one of his organizations. He’s already had to set the record straight on this matter during an earlier campaign, he says, and it’s bubbling up again because of his success.
Certainly, Paul’s campaign has worked hard on the ground in Nevada. The candidate himself has been attentive to the state, and has earned whatever success is in store on Saturday. If the predictions come true, Paul could make political history once again. And the national campaign may want to brace for tough treatment in states where, unlike in Nevada, the GOP candidates feel a greater imperative to show up.