Campaign 2008, Politics

Ron Paul’s Big Take

The big political news is that Ron Paul managed to rake in $4 million in 24 hours yesterday. 40,000 people donated an average of $98 each to bring in that money. What was impressive about the take is that Paul spend so little to get it—usually it costs a lot of money to get more money in a Presidential campaign.

However, in due fashion, Power Line throws some cold water on the whole thing:

The candidate understands his campaign very well — it’s an anti-war candidacy and little else. Notice how during debates, he routinely turns questions about domestic policy — normally meat and drink for a libertarian — back to Iraq

The only other seriously distinguishing feature of the campaign is that it’s nutty. Being anti-war is respectable, but Paul’s opposition to the war is founded on conspiracy theories, over-the-top isolationism, and an unhealthy dose of hostility to Israel. Paul’s opposition to big government is not a distinguishing feature. There are plenty of other Republican candidates this cycle who embrace small government conservatism. Again, the only only distinguishing feature of Paul’s small government platform is its nuttiness — the gold standard, the Federal Reserve conspiracy stuff, etc.

I’ll put it more simply: Ron Paul is the Republican’s Lyndon LaRouche. He represents a radical fringe, if a highly motivated one. He is not a serious candidate. If anyone honestly think that a kook like Ron Paul has a chance against any of the Democratic candidates other than Kucinich or Gravel, they’ve got a screw loose.

Yes, 40,000 people gave him a lot of money. That doesn’t mean that he’s got a shot in hell of winning, and that doesn’t make him any less of a kook.

Ron Paul’s support is primarily coming from a radical fringe. The GOP doesn’t need to embrace this fringe because elections aren’t won by courting radicals. They’re won by capturing the center. The more the real Ron Paul speaks out, the crazier he looks. What little sense he speaks on issues like small government are far outweighed by his crazy and conspiratorial nonsense.

Good for Ron Paul for getting a big take. He’s proven P.T. Barnum correct: there’s a sucker born every minute, and he managed to get 40,000 people to shell out to demonstrate it.

UPDATE: David Freddoso shows a scenario that has Ron Paul getting major traction in New Hampshire. Is such a thing possible? Certainly. Is it likely? Not very.

I don’t think Ron Paul can attract more than 10% support. He’s a niche candidate playing to a niche audience. What attraction does he have to the mainstream of the Republican Party? He’s rabidly anti-war. He’s an economic protectionist. He attracts the kind of “too-cool-for-school” Daily Show-watching college kids that are anathema to Middle America (which is why Howard Dean never got much real traction even before the “I Have A Scream” debacle). He has very strong support within his movement, but being the king of the fringe doesn’t put you in a position to win.