Tuesday, March 18, 2008
By Rand Paul, MD
Analysis of Ron Paul’s success or failure all seem to miss the mark. Many critics point to this or that ad or this or that tactic that prevented victory. I think such analysis misses the forest for the trees.
I believe that no candidate can win the presidency without the day in and day out constant television coverage. In other words, unless the media grants you first tier coverage, the electorate will not vote for you in significant numbers. A large percentage of voters will not vote for a candidate they don’t believe can win and that belief in "winnability" is still entirely controlled by the MSM.
That said, I think we should revel in the extraordinary successes of the campaign.
Ron Paul began with nearly zero name recognition and was relegated from the beginning by all MSM media to the second tier. I believe pundits should recognize the great strides in achieving between 5 and 10% of the vote in almost every state and receiving 11% in a Rasmussen poll running as a third party candidate. Not to mention over 20% in several caucus states, including second place in Nevada, Montana, and Louisiana.
Ron Paul’s name recognition nationally now likely exceeds 50% of the electorate.
Any analysis must begin by acknowledging that many better-known US Senators and Governors received less of the popular vote. Many such as Biden and Dodd received less than 1% even though they have been staples of the Sunday morning news programs for decades. Not to mention the fact that Ron Paul trounced candidates with far greater name recognition such as Fred Thompson and Rudy Guliani.
I believe Ron Paul gained nearly the maximum possible vote in a Republican Party primary. Polls in NH show that only 6% of Republicans believe in immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Nearly 50% believe in some in-between position or reassessment of war strategy. About 30% believe in "staying the course" no matter what.
In Michigan, 37% of the Republicans expressed displeasure about the Iraq War and the vast majority of these same people voted for McCain. I believe his image as someone who will challenge Bush and the establishment blinded these voters to his public comments on continuing the war for 100 years if necessary. I also believe if the poll questions asked about "immediate withdrawal" that the percentage in the Republican primary is closer to 6% nationally.
After the last NH presidential debate, I turned around to Chris Matthews and tried to get him to host Ron Paul because Fox was excluding us the next night. His eyes glazed over a bit and he thought about Ron Paul and the Iraq war. You could tell by his response. He said, you know, Ronald Reagan probably wouldn’t have gotten us into the Iraq War. Trying to be agreeable, I nodded my head. He then followed by adding that if McCain had been president we also probably wouldn’t have gone into Iraq.
I shook my head in disbelief and reminded him that the day before McCain had made the comment that he would keep the troops in Iraq for 100 years. Matthews hemmed and hawed and said, "Oh, he’s just being a good soldier now."
My take, Matthews and the liberals in the media love McCain so much for his pandering to their global warming agenda that they simply give him a pass on the war.
In the final analysis, I believe about 5-10% of the Republican Party are ready for a non-interventionist foreign policy and Ron Paul got that vote. A significant portion of the electorate heard Ron Paul’s chastisement on the huge federal deficits and nodded their heads in agreement. Innumerable Republicans come up to me and love much of the Ron Paul message, but can’t quite come to agree with the foreign policy of non-intervention.
On foreign policy, at some level, they listened to the message about the erosion of our civil liberties but could not escape the image of helicopters fleeing the embassy in Saigon in 1975. This image still bothers many Republicans and they can’t embrace a quick exit from Iraq even if they know in their heart of hearts we need to leave.
My interpretation of the Ron Paul Revolution, though a biased one as the son of the candidate is that we should rejoice in getting 5-10% of the vote given that we got 1/1000th of the media attention and did not get enough attention to enter the realms of winnability in the public’s mind.
To me, though, the campaign remains an unqualified success. My prediction for 2008: an utter crushing defeat for Republicans. Not out of anger for Ron Paul’s loss, I think he won, but because Republicans are failing on two fronts: not living up to the promises of limited government and balanced budgets and failing to understand how unpopular the Iraq War has become.
One last prediction! We will elect at least one Ron Paul Republican to Congress this year.
Rand Paul, MD
Bowling Green, KY