Ron Paul Raises Almost Six Million But Remains a Fringe Candidate

Supporters of Ron Paul raised almost six million dollars yesterday, falling short of their goal of ten million dollars. This was another tremendous achievement, especially considering that this was the work of supporters and not the official campaign. However in failing to meet their goal it also shows that Paul supporters continue to overestimate their support and lack experience. Professionals would know to underestimate as opposed to overestimate the expected results and avoid such failure to meet their own predictions.

Just as they overestimated the expected contributions, it is safe to predict that Paul supporters will overestimate the meaning of accomplishment. While it certainly demonstrates the power of the internet to affect politics, it does not mean Paul has a chance to win the Republican nomination. We saw comparable expressions of on-line enthusiasm from supporters of Howard Dean in 2003-4, with Dean even leading in the polls. Such support does not necessarily translate into votes. Paul very will may exceed his place in the polls, and perhaps even manage an upset and win in some states, but his views are simply too far out of the mainstream of the Republican Party for him to have any chance to win the nomination.

Paul currently benefits from combined opposition to the war and a general disdain for big government which will allow him to pick up some votes beyond those of his die hard supporters. However there is a fairly low ceiling on his potential support, and he cannot hold up well to increased scrutiny. Should he move out of single digits and appear to be a real contender, he cannot count on softball interviews such as the one recently conducted by John Stossel which came off far more as an internal campaign presentation than an exercise in real journalism.

Paul currently receives support from a curious assortment of libertarians, paleoconservatives, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and conspiracy theorists along with others who do not really understand the consequences of his views. Should Paul face greater scrutiny it will become apparent that he is far more a social conservative and states’ rights advocate than libertarian, and his views would likely lead to less rather than more freedom for most of the country.

One of the major challenges to individual liberty today comes from the increased influence of the religious right. Paul’s denial of our heritage of separation of church and state, and belief that the founding fathers intended to create a Christian nation, could have a devastating effect on freedom in this country should he be elected. The harm would be increased by the view of Paul and many of his supporters that Constitutional liberties only apply to the federal government and not the states, ignoring the 14th Amendment. Paul’s views on conspiracy theories will create further doubts as to whether he is intellectually fit to be president.

Ron Paul was a fringe candidate before the recent successful fund raisers. Now he’s a fringe candidate with a large amount of money, but still a fringe candidate. Having a lot of money will allow him to make the primaries more interesting, and continue his criticism of Republicans for their disastrous foreign policy and lack of respect for civil liberties, but will not affect the outcome of the race.

Update: Salty Pig claims that, controlled for inflation, Paul did not break Kerry’s record. He also notes that Paul supporters missed an opportunity here to point out the effects of currency debasement after only three years. Even if you accept his argument, this is still quite an accomplishment for Paul’s supporters considering Kerry had quite an advantage in fund raising after winning the nomination.

Update II: A number of Paul supporters have claimed that I am incorrect in my statement above that Paul’s supporters failed to meet their goal of ten million dollars. They are confusing the goals of the Paul campaign for the quarter, which have been exceeded, with the goals for yesterday’s money bomb. As is also noted at Slate, “Originally, the plan was to get 100,000 people to donate $100 each, giving Paul $10 million.”

On top of multiple erroneous claims that I was incorrect on this point, the mod que is full with the usual supply of insults which are generally directed against anyone who dares to disagree with Ron Paul, a number of the usual revisionist theories on the Constitution which show that the Constitution as viewed by Paul supporters is quite different from what was envisioned by the framers, as well as all the predictions of how Paul will win the election. My “favorite” is the guy who spent the time to send about ten comments full of irrational rants and then bragged about his ability to ignore the MSM and others who criticize Paul. Oh, the blogosphere would be a so much better place if only these people really did ignore criticism, or at least learn to respond to it in a rational manner!

Update III: What Will Ron Paul Do With All This Money?

Update IV: It’s after dark and the loonies are really coming out now. There’s more comments with paranoid ideas that this post is part of a conspiracy to thwart their “revolution.” One asks, “who do you work for and who do you serve?” If I didn’t think that most Paul supporters are too young to have watched The Twilight Zone, I’d be tempted to panic them by hinting at yet another, more horrifying, conspiracy by responding that my goal is “to serve mankind.” Paul can’t be totally blamed for his supporters, but how does one candidate polling at only around five percent mange to have so many kooks backing him? Remarkably, nobody has brought up the Council on Foreign Relations yet today.

Update V: Ron Paul gives a good answer to the question of what he will do with the money, but not many pay attention or give him credit for having the right idea on this.

Update VI: More proof of that Ron Paul is a fringe candidate. He can’t even beat Allan Keyes.

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16 Comments

  1. 1
    Joe S. says:

    Please reread the linked article carefully. You’ll see that there is no reference to a ten million dollar goal that they ‘failed’ to meet. On the contrary, the Paul campaign had a fourth quarter goal of twelve million dollars, which they have already vastly exceeded by over fifty percent.

    Given past performance, Ron Paul is likely now the best-funded Republican candidate, and he’s doing it with non-corporate, non-self contributions. Maybe it’s time to find out not only what he stands for, but why.

  2. 2
    Mark says:

    Ha.

    He Breaks a record, but of course you’ll find some nits to pick. I’ve heard of a tough audience before, but good grief. Even Huckabee’s supporters sent a congratulations. What will it take to push beyond a ‘fringe candidate?’ polling in double digits in South Carolina? Finishing in the top 3 in an early Primary? Being ahead of Fred Thompson in New Hampshire?

    The term ‘Damning with Faint Praise’ comes to mind.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    This isn’t about breaking records but being able to win elections. The fund raising was impressive, but it doesn’t change the fact that he has virtually no chance to win the nomination. Raising money and being able to win are two quite different things. Of course the Republicans should be concerned that a fringe candidate in their party can raise more than they can as it does raise the question of whether any of they can do well in a general election.

  4. 4
    Shawn says:

    I agree with most of your article, except the emphasis on the types of supporters Paul has. If you looked at his supporters objectively, you would conclude that he has a vast cross-section of society. Listing white supremacists and neo-nazis is patently ridiculous.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Shawn,

    Paul has received the support of Stormfront. There has been a considerable amount of support for Paul expressed on neo-Nazi and white supremacist web sites. A significant amount of the comments received here and from other blogs from Paul supporters include expressions of racism.

    This certainly doesn’t man that most of Paul’s supporters fall into these categories but they are a part of his support. Paul’s views on state’s rights, and his view that Constitutional rights only apply to the federal government and not the states, provide reason for such groups to support him. It is far easier for such extremist groups to win a majority for their positions in a state or local election than nationally.

  6. 6
    rhys says:

    “We saw comparable expressions of on-line enthusiasm from supporters of Howard Dean in 2003-4, with Dean even leading in the polls.”

    Dean’s campign had not comparable enthusiasm. Paul, even correcting for inflation, is at least three times as popular as Dean on-line, and the fact that Dean was leading in the polls just is additional support for the fact that the MSM polls are relatively useless.

    “Such support does not necessarily translate into votes. Paul very will may exceed his place in the polls, and perhaps even manage an upset and win in some states, but his views are simply too far out of the mainstream of the Republican Party for him to have any chance to win the nomination.”

    Unfortunately for your argument, there is no way for you to prove that Ron Paul does not represent the mainstream of the Republican Party. Parties change base constantly. Just look at how quickly the South turned from blue to red in the late 80’s – early 90’s. It is possible, that the internet has allowed the base of a political party to move with increased speed, and Paul happens to best represent the current base, and future base of the GOP. But whether this is true or not, your arrogance is showing if you feel like you have some sort of lock on the pulse of permanently ephemeral public opinion.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Joe S,

    You are confusing the quarterly fund raising goals of the campaign with the goals for this particular fund raiser, which were not met. The goal was to get 100,000 people to donate $100 each resulting in raising $10 million.

  8. 8
    RyanW says:

    To compare 5.7 million raised by Kerry on the day after he was nominated to the 6 million raised by Paul weeks before a single vote has been placed sounds like desperation on the part of the author. If all he can do is play with numbers, and point to the fact that out dollar is worth less now than it was then I think the argument is pretty weak.

    When Kerry had his record day all the votes had been placed and he was the only remaining candidate, here we are and with out a single vote placed and seven other candidates in the Republican field alone Ron Paul has raised 6 million dollars. Add to all of that the fact he and his staff did not have to lift a finger to make it happen, it means that something very special is happening in the Paul camp.

    All we have to do to change those poll numbers is to break down peoples illusions about the institutions Americans fight so hard to protect. Sometimes we just need to clean house and get back to basics, like the principles of equality. Would we be discussing water boarding or torture if we truly believed that our rights came from our creator and not government? If we believed the former and not the latter then it would be obvious why we can’t torture, because as soon as you torture one person no matter what they’ve done or what they know, it is acceptable to torture all people, even our own citizens.

  9. 9
    Joe P says:

    There has been a considerable amount of support for Paul expressed on neo-Nazi and white supremacist web sites

    that statement bothers me. considerable as measured how? What % of paul’s total support is of this ilk? Look more than one is a bummer, but considerable is vague. but it makes for good copy.
    was mentioned on PBS’ NOW interview as well. along with the slap and dash comment ~ this is the first time ron paul has denounced the white supremacist’s that support him. Uh, I dunno ~ had that question been asked before for him to reply to? Is so sad the spin. thanks for at least taking notice. be well.

  10. 10
    Ben Bowman says:

    Of course the fund raising drive “fell short of its goal,” but if you aim at nothing, that’s exactly what you’ll hit. If his supporters had some kind of central organization, maybe you could criticize them for strategic mistakes like this. Instead, this is a movement. It’s a community. I don’t care who *you* think it consists of, but this is a huge swath of America that is just plain fed up. The fact that Paul is running at all fills them with an intoxicating level of hope. So of course they’re going to talk eagerly about their hopes and expectations.

    The $10M was just something to push for. The real story is that Ron Paul’s quarterly goal of $12M looked positively daunting to all of us when the quarter started. Yet now the campaign stands at $18.3M and we (not the campaign) are moving the goal posts up to 20.

    Ron Paul has broken every barrier of entry into the “not-fringe” category except one: the “polls.” We have evidence of these polls being less than accurate, if not outright skewed at the outset. But he can out-raise his competitors, he wins almost every open, self-selective poll, and he’s only gaining supporters. Except for one very unreliable criterion, he is nowhere near the “fringe.”

  11. 11
    Ben Bowman says:

    I should also note that the primary election is just another open, self-selective poll.

  12. 12
    Ryan says:

    Reading articles like this one are the very reason why I believe you are incorrect Ron. Ron Paul is nowhere near a fringe candidate anymore, and every journalist alive that doesn’t agree would like to make you believe that he has no chance at all.

    What Dr. Paul is doing is polarizing the Republican party. Yes, he is against the policies and views of the current party. But isn’t that the same party that put a President in the White House that has an approval rating of under 20%? I believe that a large group of GOP constituents are very worried about the economy, and are sick of the war. The only candidate directly addressing this is Ron Paul. Now, I will admit that the group of people that feel this way might not be a majority, but: the rest of the party is not unified around any candidate, it changes weekly. First is was Giuliani, then Romney, and now Huckabee is surging. Ron Paul has a resonance that is far beyond Howard Dean in 2004, and just wait until the primaries are done. You will then regret that you put him down as a “fringe” candidate.

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    Joe P.

    “Uh, I dunno ~ had that question been asked before for him to reply to?Uh, I dunno ~ had that question been asked before for him to reply to”

    Yes, many times. This especially came up after it was reported that he received a contribution from the founder of Stormfront. Any serious candidate would have known to repudiate such support. Paul’s failure to respond on this has seriously hurt his credibility.

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    Ben Bowman,

    “Ron Paul has broken every barrier of entry into the “not-fringe” category except one: the “polls.””

    No, if you bothered to read what I’ve written on the subject before repeating the usual talking points from Paul supporters on the polls you would see that this is not true. As I’ve pointed out, Kerry trailed Al Sharpton in the polls but was not a fringe candidate. The polls are just one reflection of Paul being a fringe candidate but it is possible for a candidate who is doing poorly in the polls to move up. This year we are seeing this with Huckabee. Even though Huckabee is wrong on most of the issues, his views are less out of sync with his party, and he does represent a significant component of the Republican coalition.

    Paul is a fringe candidate not because he is doing poorly in the polls but because his views are so out of sync with the Republican Party (regardless of whether he is right on the issues). His failure to repudiate the support of racist groups and his advocacy of conspiracy theories also keeps him a fringe candidate.

  15. 15
    Ron Chusid says:

    Ryan,

    “What Dr. Paul is doing is polarizing the Republican party. Yes, he is against the policies and views of the current party. But isn’t that the same party that put a President in the White House that has an approval rating of under 20%?”

    If only that were so. However, as noted in the post written after this one, the majority of Paul supporters are not registered Republicans. At best they could achieve a take over from without, but I doubt there are enough of them. Rather than polarizing the Republican Party, the effect will be to unite the Republican Party against the outsiders.

    While it is hard to believe, Bush’s approval rating is actually significantly better than 20.

    “Ron Paul has a resonance that is far beyond Howard Dean in 2004, and just wait until the primaries are done. You will then regret that you put him down as a “fringe” candidate.”

    Dean actually had far more support than Ron Paul. However, if it turns out that you are right I certainly won’t regret considering him a fringe candidate as I would rather see him win the nomination as opposed to any of the more viable candidates. It would be great to see, but I don’t think there is much of a chance. At least I do think he will keep it interesting and surpass his position in the polls. There’s even some states where I think he has a chance of pulling off an upset victory in a divided field, but I don’t think he stands a chance of winning the nomination.

  16. 16
    ML says:

    Ron – In your heavily slanted opening paragraph you said, “However in failing to meet their goal it also shows that Paul supporters continue to overestimate their support and lack experience. Professionals would know to underestimate as opposed to overestimate the expected results and avoid such failure to meet their own predictions.”

    What you FAIL to realize is that Ron Paul’s official campaign set a 4th quarter fundraising goal of $12 million, which seemed almost laughable at the time. He EXCEEDED this targeted goal by 50% with $18.2 million and two weeks left to go. The lofty goal of $10 million in one single day has never been done before. The next highest total was John Kerry’s $5.7 million in 2004. Ron Paul has come out of nowhere to outfundraise the “establishment” candidates who plug into the party fundraising machine of special interest groups. Next time you write an article, try a little harder to camouflage your bias.

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