Paul Krugman Misses His Own Answer To His Question

Paul Krugman has asked a question he did not believe there was an answer to and then, without realizing it, answered it twice. At his blog he links to Chris Bowers’ dismissive post at Open Left on the contemplated presidential run by Michael Bloomberg and then asks, “Seriously, why does anyone think this makes sense? I read a lot of polls, and they suggest that the center of public opinion on the issues is, if anything, left of the center of the Democratic Party. This seems to be a solution in search of a problem.”

The first answer comes from reading Bowers’ post, which uses a pack of straw man arguments to dismiss the whole idea, showing no understanding of other viewpoints. If this is the mind set of today’s Democrats, I desperately want an alternative.

The second answer is found in his column in the Monday New York Times. Krugman compares the two parties and finds there is no common ground. Each party is now is dominated by a set of ideas with no room for compromise and no middle ground. This is exactly why we need an alternative.

The current two party divide might be fine for those who hold one of the two sets of views held by the major parties, but not all of us entirely share one set or the other. In 2004 the Republicans were speaking of a permanent majority and by 2006 they were being voted out. There was not suddenly a decision by a block of far right Republicans that they were wrong on everything and therefore they would become Edwards/Krugman style Democrats, making for a new populist majority as Krugman believes exists.

In reality many people including independents, moderates, and “Starbucks Republicans” realized that the Republican policies were wrong. In a two party system that meant voting Democratic, but that did not mean we all agreed with every position of the Democratic Party. Many of us want out of Iraq, want a restoration of a rational foreign policy, want to restore the checks on balances on government which have been eroded, and want an end to the abuses of civil liberties. Many of us also see a need for government action to solve some problems. This includes health care reform to solve some of the problems in the insurance industry, but not necessarily destroying the industry or creating mandatory programs. This also includes dealing with environmental problems such as climate change which are beyond the ability of the free market to resolve.

This does not mean we accept big government solutions for all problems. The knee jerk offering of a government program to provide assistance in every circumstance by people like Edwards is just a transparent method of seeking voters and is simply a mirror image of Republicans offering tax cuts we cannot afford to receive the votes of their constituents.

We also enjoy the products and services provided by the supposedly evil corporate America. Many have good jobs thanks to corporate America. Many of us have built substantial nest eggs thanks to investing in corporate America. This includes many middle class Americans who have taken advantage of such opportunities. A candidate such as John Edwards who makes corporate America the enemy will not receive the votes of many of us who helped the Democrats take control of Congress in 2006. This does not mean that we would naively allow corporate America to do everything and anything it wanted to increase profits. If we were that kind of monster we would be Bush/Cheney Republicans.

Krugman wrote that “the center of public opinion on the issues is, if anything, left of the center of the Democratic Party.” I imagine that would be somewhere around Barack Obama looking at the choices this year. If Obama is the nominee, then Krugman is right that here is no need for an independent alternative. However if the only choice is Edwards style populism or a return to Republican rule, we desperately need another alternative. I certainly don’t know if this independent group will provide the alternative we need, and I’m realistic enough to doubt I will agree with them on all issues. I certainly fear they will be somewhat more moderate than I am on social issues. However I am willing to listen to what they have to offer, rather than dismissing their views as Krugman does or distorting their views as Bowers does to attack them.

Related Stories On Bloomberg’s Possible Candidacy:
Bipartisan Group Meeting To Consider Unity Government

Liberal Hostility To Bipartisanship

New York Times Provides Further Information on Potential Independent Campaign

New York Times Provides Further Information on Potential Independent Campaign

The New York Times reports further on the Michael Bloomberg’s possible bid to run for president. They report that a decision won’t be made until February but a bipartisan group is “positioning themselves so that if the mayor declares his candidacy, a turnkey campaign infrastructure will virtually be in place.” The Times reports:

On Sunday, the mayor will join Democratic and Republican elder statesmen at the University of Oklahoma in what the conveners are billing as an effort to pressure the major party candidates to renounce partisan gridlock.

Former Senator David L. Boren of Oklahoma, who organized the session with former Senator Sam Nunn, a Democrat of Georgia, suggested in an interview that if the prospective major party nominees failed within two months to formally embrace bipartisanship and address the fundamental challenges facing the nation, “I would be among those who would urge Mr. Bloomberg to very seriously consider running for president as an independent.”

Next week’s meeting, reported on Sunday in The Washington Post, comes as the mayor’s advisers have been quietly canvassing potential campaign consultants about their availability in the coming months.

And Mr. Bloomberg himself has become more candid in conversations with friends and associates about his interest in running, according to participants in those talks. Despite public denials, the mayor has privately suggested scenarios in which he might be a viable candidate: for instance, if the opposing major party candidates are poles apart, like Mike Huckabee, a Republican, versus Barack Obama or John Edwards as the Democratic nominee.

As I’ve discussed previously, such a bid would make far more sense, and have a greater chance of victory, if Edwards as opposed to Obama was the Democratic nominee. There has also been speculation since they met last month that Bloomberg would be less likely to run if Obama won the nomination and continued to oppose the current hyper-partisanship. All the potential Republican nominees are so far to the right that a centrist alternative might be viable, but Huckabee would provide Bloomberg with the greatest chance to pick up the most Republican votes.

The bipartisan meeting to consider this effort will include a public panel discussion and be followed by a press conference. This will hopefully provide further information as to the specific policies they might advocate. It will be necessary to see who the major party nominees are, as well as the specific policies of this group, to determine if they are worth supporting. Regardless, I am enjoying all the exploding heads in the liberal blogosphere among those who mistook rejection of right wing extremism as support for all their positions. With the Republicans no longer offering a meaningful choice as they are dominated by the religious right and neoconservatives, this might also provide the framework of an alternative to the Democrats to ensure that we continue to have the benefits of a two party system. A copy of the invitation to the planned gathering is under the fold.


Liberal Hostility To Bipartisanship

Earlier I commented on the report of Michael Bloomberg meeting with members of both parties to consider alternatives to our current hyper-polarization. Most expect this to lead to a third party candidacy by Michael Bloomberg. While I would need to see the actual positions that this group takes before deciding upon support, I see something of potential value here. In contrast, the liberal blogosphere has been quite vitriolic in its condemnation of this idea, with many examples available through Memeorandum.

There are some exceptions. Naturally moderates see this as something of benefit, including Michael van der Galien and Justin Gardner. Libby is a rare liberal blogger who joins me in her concern over the ferocity of the response from other liberal bloggers.

Libby both sees some value in polarization but also recognizes its problems. Three have been many blogs posting on polarization lately. Many confuse sorting of the parties with polarization when they see this as a good thing.

Sorting of the parties is the separation of liberals into the Democratic Party and conservatives into the Republican Party. There are arguments for why this is preferable to the situation in the days in which the Democrats had both liberals and southern conservatives, and even Republicans had a real liberal contingent. With this sorting we now have a situation where each party does stand for something different in contrast to the days when it was commonly argued that there was not a dime’s worth of difference between the two.

Sorting is not the same as today’s hyper-partisanship. This partisanship not only divides the parties ideologically, but growing numbers in each party not only ignore the views of the other party but look with disdain on all but those on the extremes. We’ve already seen the Republicans ostracize the moderates from their party, resulting in them becoming no longer able to either govern effectively or win elections.

We are now seeing the same among many on the left. Elizabeth Edwards claims that those who do not support her husband’s policies are not actual Democrats. John Edwards and supporters like Paul Krugman, as well as many liberal bloggers, are attacking Obama for simply being willing to consider the views of others. When someone like Obama is being attacked for not being pure enough, the Democrats risk becoming just a mirror image of the extremist Republicans.

We’ve also seen plenty of situations in recent years when each party will block measures of the other not based upon what is good policy but based upon preventing the other from having a political victory. We have moved well beyond the days when Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil could share a friendly drink at the end of the day, and sometimes even cooperate on policy.

This is the situation which has made such a unity movement necessary. The vitriol with which many liberal bloggers are attacking the concept demonstrates exactly why this is necessary. It also solves a potential dilemma for me. Under normal circumstances if someone like Edwards were to receive the Democratic nomination I’d stay home, or possibly hold my nose and vote Republican. This is much harder to contemplate with the movement of the GOP to the far right, making me happy to have an alternative to consider such as Bloomberg.

Bipartisan Group Meeting To Consider Unity Government

For years the Republicans have ruled from the extreme right based and forcing the moderates out of their party until they wound up in the present situation where they first lost Congress and now look likely to lose the White House. Rather than learning from this experience, many Democrats are supporting John Edwards, who proposes to do exactly the same with his newly-adopted extreme populist polices. Numerous posts on liberal blogs, as well as writings from Paul Krugman, have promoted such hyper-partisanship, even to the point of dismissing Obama as undesirable. If the Democrats should be so foolish as to go this route, or to nominate Hillary Clinton who is also opposed by a considerable portion of the electorate, it will serve them right if they are denied the White House due to a new force in politics.

The Washington Post reports that Michael Bloomberg will be meeting with a group of Democrats and Republicans on January 7 to discuss developing a government of national unity. This would possibly include supporting a third party candidate for president. While they do not specifically bill this as backing Bloomberg, considering the money he would bring to such a campaign this would be the most likely outcome. Multiple supporters of the effort are mentioned:

Conveners of the meeting include such prominent Democrats as former senators Sam Nunn (Ga.), Charles S. Robb (Va.) and David L. Boren (Okla.), and former presidential candidate Gary Hart. Republican organizers include Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), former party chairman Bill Brock, former senator John Danforth (Mo.) and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman…

The list of acceptances suggests that the group could muster the financial and political firepower to make the threat of such a candidacy real. Others who have indicated that they plan to attend the one-day session include William S. Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine and defense secretary in the Clinton administration; Alan Dixon, a former Democratic senator from Illinois; Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator from Florida; Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa; Susan Eisenhower, a political consultant and granddaughter of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower; David Abshire, president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency; and Edward Perkins, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Historically third parties have performed poorly, but the situation is now quite different. Both parties are in danger of being controlled by their extremes leaving many people who feel that neither party represents them. The internet provides a mechanism for organization and fund raising which can challenge the advantages of the established parties. Bloomberg’s wealth would further decrease the advantages of the major parties, and the campaign could get off the ground more quickly than the campaigns of the Democratic and Republican nominees. In 2004, after clinching the Democratic nomination, John Kerry had to spend most of his time raising money before his campaign got off the ground. Without the advantages of incumbency, and with decreased contributions to Republicans this year, they would also be in a similar situation. Should either party have a protracted primary campaign they could be at an even further disadvantage. Ross Perot led the major party candidates in the polls at one point, and Bloomberg would be a much more “reasonable” candidate to borrow from Peggy Noonan’s recent analysis.

The chances of success of such an effort will depend upon who the major parties nominate. There have been rumors since their recent meeting that Bloomberg will not run if Obama is the Democratic nominee, and such a challenge would be futile considering Obama’s support among independents, many moderate Republicans, and even some libertarians who are disillusioned with Paul’s social conservatism and ties to right wing extremists.

Bloomberg’s best chance for victory would be if John Edwards received the Democratic nomination. In such a three way race, Bloomberg would prevent Edwards from winning the electoral votes of the east and west coasts. The Republicans would take the south and mountain states, and the midwest would be a battleground where Edwards would also have a difficult job winning many states. In such a situation many Democrats might ultimately decide to go with Bloomberg as opposed to risking support for Edwards who would place them in danger of coming in third. With Edwards made irrelevant, Bloomberg could then take the blue states and be more competitive than the Democrats have been in several red states. His chances would be best if Mike Huckabee won the Republican nomination as many Wall Street and country club Republicans would prefer Bloomberg over him.

There are many other possible scenarios. Knocking out the Republicans would be even easier if Ron Paul won the nomination, but this is hardly within the realm of reality. If Clinton won the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg would have a more difficult job of winning than if Edwards won the nomination, but with Clinton’s negatives a victory still might be possible. Even if Bloomberg could not win, such a candidacy would dramatically change the election and all previous predictions of the outcome would be irrelevant.

Update: Liberal Hostility To Bipartisanship

Paul Krugman Supports Continuation of Bush/Rove Style Politics

The mind set behind Paul Krugman’s recent attacks on Barack Obama become clear from reading the excerpt from his book, The Conscience of a Liberal which appears at Slate. Krugman’s objections to Obama are over matters far greater than their disagreement over mandates on health care. The two have a totally different philosophy of government, and unfortunately Krugman wants to continue the philosophy of government best attributed in recent years to George Bush and Karl Rove.

While a majority oppose the Bush administration, different people do so for different reasons. Some of us have opposed Republican rule in recent years because Republicans practiced government from the extremes. Under their philosophy of government, the views of 49% of the country could be ignored if they could have the support of 51%. Paul Krugman and some on the left object not to this government from the extremes but simply object to the fact that it isn’t their extreme views which are dominant. Krugman writes:

Democrats, with the encouragement of people in the news media who seek bipartisanship for its own sake, may fall into the trap of trying to be anti-Bushes—of trying to transcend partisanship, seeking some middle ground between the parties.

That middle ground doesn’t exist—and if Democrats try to find it, they’ll squander a huge opportunity. Right now, the stars are aligned for a major change in America’s direction. If the Democrats play nice, that opportunity may soon be gone.

Krugman misunderstands why the Democrats won in 2006, as well as why they were out of power for many years before that. Voters rejected Republican rule largely because of how extreme it became. The problem with the Republican 51% strategy is that as soon as people disagree with parts of the platform there is no room for them in the party. Those who did not agree with Republican extremism in all its forms ultimately voted Democratic as the only option.

Krugman is mistaken if he believes that people voted Democratic because they support everything in what he characterizes as the progressive agenda. There is a middle ground between the two parties. There are also a variety of viewpoints. Many of us lean more libertarian, while rejecting the extremism and fantasy world view of Ron Paul and his supporters. We oppose the war and infringements on civil liberties, recognize a legitimate need for government in some areas, but do not see big government as the solution to all problems. Others might disagree with the Republicans for other reasons and decided to vote Democratic to register their protests. Many people are not ideological and simply recognize that the Republicans are taking the country on the wrong course.

If Paul Krugman’s advice is followed by the Democrats, us independents will quickly abandon them again. Government which only listens to the views of the far left is no better than government which only listens to views of the far right. Some independents will return to the Republicans, who will hopefully be willing to accept a wider range of viewpoints. Others will seek alternatives.

The frustration that government ping-pongs back and forth between two competing groups of narrow minded ideologues led to the Ross Perot movement, and explains the attraction of Ron Paul and Michael Bloomberg to some this year. Barack Obama has also tried to show some understanding of the views of such independents this year, causing him to repeatedly be attacked by Paul Krugman who realizes that if Obama listens to independents and even conservatives he will present a roadblock to shoving his agenda down the throats of all Americans. The result of Democrats following Krugman’s advice will be more hyper-partisanship as each side continues to try to push their agenda while ignoring the views of everyone else, and it won’t be long before there is an anti-Democratic backlash.

Forbes Believes Bloomberg is Planning to Run

Michael Bloomberg has denied he plans to run but has continued to do things to keep the idea alive. Forbes believes he is really running:

Look out, Hillary and Barack, here comes Mike. No, not Mike Huckabee (though he’d better watch out, too). Mike Bloomberg–Mayor Mike as millions of New Yorkers more or less affectionately call him.

And this time it is for real. Folks close to New York City’s twice-elected mayor suggest that he’s made up his mind to end one of the city’s long-running rumors and become an Independent candidate for president.

The date of his announcement? Pencilled in for right after Super Tuesday–Feb. 5. By then Bloomberg would have a pretty good idea of just who would be lining up against his third-party, self-financed billion-dollar campaign.

I’ve suspected that Bloomberg would wait to see who the nominees are before deciding to run, but perhaps it is true that he has decided to run and just wants to see who he would be running against before announcing. The opposing candidates might make a difference in the manner in which Bloomberg announces his campaign as he gives a reason for entering into the race. Bloomberg would probably frame himself as a moderate should Edwards get the nomination. This would not work as well should Obama be the Democratic nominee considering his greater appeal to independents and Bloomberg would have to concentrate more on his experience as a rational for running.
There is no guarantee this year that we will know who the major party nominees are after Super Tuesday. It is easy to conceive of scenarios by which more than one candidate in either party has picked up enough delegates to remain in the race if different candidates win in a number of states.

A victory for a third party candidate remains a long shot, but a combination of Bloomberg’s money and the use of the internet to assist organization makes it more possible than in the past. Bloomberg is also aided by a realignment which has been underway the past several years. The Republicans have lost the moderates as the religious right has gained influence, and this trend would be completed should Huckabee manage to win the nomination.

The Democrats received the votes of many independents and former Republicans in 2006 but this is not the same as permanent loyalty. Many Democrats remain in the mindset of the New Deal coalition and fail to understand the economic transformation of the information age. If the Democrats should adopt the populism of John Edwards, or should they continue to fail in providing a strong opposition to the extremism of the Republicans, there will be many people who are unhappy with both major parties and someone like Bloomberg might be able to end the current two party status quo.

Another question would be whether this is part of a long term effort to alter politics for those unhappy with the direction of either party or if it is just an exercise for Bloomberg’s ego. If there was a serious effort to provide a real choice to the “Starbucks Republicans” and fiscally conservative Democrats there would be far more reason to support a campaign which might lose in 2008 in the hopes of building something worthwhile for the long term. A serious third party bid might also force a change in the direction of one or both major parties, as has sometimes been how third parties have achieved some measure of success in the past.

Speculation Continues That Bloomberg Might Run in 2008

The Wall Street Journal keeps alive speculation that Michael Bloomberg might still run for president as a third party candidate. They report that is advisers are planning for different scenarios:

One scenario — and the one aides are hoping for — would be a race between fellow New Yorkers Hillary Clinton and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Sen. Clinton’s negative rating is the highest in either party, while Mr. Giuliani’s is the highest among Republicans. That match-up could make what supporters see as Mr. Bloomberg’s “above the fray” image more appealing. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Giuliani are also seen as moderate on social issues, which could mute opposition to Mr. Bloomberg from the religious right. “If the parties nominate polarizing candidates…then there’s plenty of room” for Mr. Bloomberg, independent pollster John Zogby said.

Another scenario that would provide an opening would be if both parties nominate candidates from outside the center — John Edwards on the Democratic side, for example, or Republican Mike Huckabee, who leads polls in Iowa and is surging in national surveys. In such a case, Mr. Bloomberg would seek to appeal to moderates. “The terrain that he would look to run on is dead center of the highway,” said William Cunningham, Mr. Bloomberg’s first-term communications director.

Bloomberg’s best chance to actually win the election would be if John Edwards clinches the nomination early, following a win in Iowa, before Democrats really take a close look at him. In such a three way race, the Republicans would take the south and much of the west, Bloomberg would take the northeast, and the  midwest would be the remaining battleground. Bloomberg would be a long shot as a third party candidate, but he would have an excellent chance of moving into second place by next fall. In that case the dynamic could change to a race between Bloomberg and the Republican candidate with even those Democrats who would vote for Edwards switching to Bloomberg to prevent a Republican victory.

If Bloomberg has any shot of winning his greatest asset after his wealth is that he is largely a blank slate for most of the country.  As a former Democrat who was elected as a moderate Republican he could base his campaign to go after the votes of both independents and the votes of which ever party has the weaker candidate. Bloomberg could also benefit from buyer’s remorse as well as any bad news or gaffes during 2008.

With neither party offering a very good choice a well financed third party campaign could capitalize on the anti-establishment mood:

Partisan battles in Congress have already created an “anti-institutional mood” that could provide an opening for an independent candidate, Mr. Zogby said. Those urging Mr. Bloomberg to run draw comparisons to 1992, when an unsettled economy and battles between a Republican president and a Democratic Congress helped billionaire Ross Perot win 19% of the vote. Hamilton Jordan, who briefly ran Mr. Perot’s campaign and has met with Bloomberg strategist Mr. Sheekey, noted that the Texas technology entrepreneur drew nearly 20 million votes despite a disjointed campaign.

Mr. Bloomberg has also shown a greater willingness to spend his own money. Mr. Perot spent an estimated $65 million nationally in 1992 compared to the $74 million Mr. Bloomberg spent to get elected mayor in 2001 and the $84 million he spent on his re-election four years later. Mr. Sheekey has floated the notion of a “billion-dollar campaign,” and insiders said he has dedicated much of Mr. Bloomberg’s second term to figuring out how to use that money. Mr. Sheekey’s first challenge would be getting Mr. Bloomberg on the ballot in as many states as possible.

Mr. Sheekey, who ran both of Mr. Bloomberg’s mayoral campaigns, has met with Unity08, a group promoting an independent or bipartisan presidential campaign, and has his own ballot-access team ready to get to work as soon as Mr. Bloomberg decides to run. Mr. Bloomberg’s billions would also be instrumental in spreading his name and message.

Meals with Michael

Michael Bloomberg has been going out to eat a lot recently. Following his recent dinner with Chuck Hagel there are now reports of Bloomberg having breakfast with Barack Obama. There’s no word on what they talked about, but we do know that Obama paid for the breakfast and didn’t make a mistake Hillary Clinton recently did. Obama left a $10 tip on a $17.34 meal.

Bloomberg and Hagel Continue to Show Signs of Considering Independent Run

Although Michael Bloomberg denies having plans to run for president, the topic of a Bloomberg-Hagel ticket keeps coming up. Last week Sam Stein reported on Bloomberg’s efforts to study foreign policy.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been receiving foreign policy briefing sessions on a wide variety of topics, providing the strongest indication yet that he is considering a run for the White House, the Huffington Post has learned.

The sessions, which were confirmed by multiple sources, have been conducted with Nancy Soderberg, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a Clinton Administration foreign policy adviser. One source described her as “Bloomberg’s Condi.”

A range of topics have been discussed, from non-proliferation to the defense budget, with a specific focus on the war in Iraq.

These sessions dramatically contradict Bloomberg’s denials that he is planning to run for president. The one aspect of his possible candidacy that is considered missing is foreign policy experience. These strategy sessions with Soderberg seem clearly designed to fortify that weakness.

Hagel helped build up his independent credentials, and gave Ron Paul supporters yet another reason to panic, when he spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations criticizing George Bush:

Sen. Chuck Hagel, a leading Republican lawmaker who has come out against the Iraq war, had some harsh words for the Bush White House Wednesday, calling it “one of the most arrogant” administrations he’s ever seen.

“I would rate this one the lowest in capacity, in capability, in policy, in consensus — almost every area, I would give it the lowest grade,” Hagel said during an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York…

“I think of this administration, what they could have done after 9/11, what was within their grasp,” he said. “Every poll in the world showed 90 percent of the world for us. Iran had some of the first spontaneous demonstrations on the streets of Tehran supporting America.”

“There’s where they have failed the country,” Hagel continued. “They’ve squandered the time and the opportunity that they had, and the next president is going to take four years to not only dig out from under that.

Hagel denied any plans to run, but did joke about the order of a potential ticket:

“Bloomberg’s got the money — I think it’d be Bloomberg-Hagel,” the senator joked when asked about the speculation.

After the speech, Hagel  had dinner with Bloomberg, and Hagel kept speculation alive:

After Bloomberg and Hagel shared another not-so-secret dinner in Washington last May, Hagel said in a television interview that it was time for a third-party candidacy to shake things up. He also mused about the idea of him and Bloomberg running together.

“We didn’t make any deals. But I think Mayor Bloomberg is the kind of individual who should seriously think about this,” Hagel said. “It’s a great country to think about – a New York boy and a Nebraska boy to be teamed up leading this nation.”

Where Ron Paul Stands, In Texas and Nationally

The Hill is running an article claiming that Ron Paul is in trouble in his district predicting he will not win the nomination to retain his seat. I certainly don’t know enough about the local politics in his district to say for sure, but this article doesn’t pass the smell test. The article from the beginning read like something from someone with an agenda as opposed to an impartial observer, and this is made clear as it ends with “Good riddance.”

My bet is that Ron Paul is reelected to his House seat, assuming he intends to seek reelection. I certainly hope he does. While I disagree with Paul’s conservativism on social issues, any Republican who is likely to win in Texas will have equally conservative views but would not likely share Paul’s views on the war and civil liberties. I think libertarians have been mistaken in seeing the Republicans as allies, but I would rather have Paul as a Republican Congressman, despite his flaws, than a typical Republican in the hopes that Paul could nudge the Republicans in a more libertarian direction.

There remains the question of whether Paul would decide to run as a third party candidate as opposed to seeking reelection to the House. Rasmussen has conducted a poll with Paul running as a third party candidate. The results are Clinton 42%, Giuliani 39%, and Paul 8%. Paul receives more support from Democrats than Republicans. Most likely his support comes from a combination of libertarians, the far right extremist groups which back him, and some Democrats due to his opposition to the war. Democrats who only see him in the debates, or perhaps read his recent interview in Rolling Stone, might look on him favorably.

If Paul could receive 8% of the vote it would be about eight times greater than what the Libertarian Party could normally achieve. There is also the question as to whether there is much room for movement. While it is possible Paul might improve on this, my suspicion is that his support would drop as the race goes on. His upside potential would come from greater exposure now that he has more money to work with. I suspect that those who might vote for Paul are people who pay close attention to politics and already are aware of him.

Paul’s problem is that many of the Democratic voters who now consider voting for him due to his position on Iraq are likely to change their minds when they consider his other positions and record. Democrats and many independents who oppose the war are not likely to vote for a candidate who opposes abortion rights and does not believe in separation of church and state. While Paul will receive more attention than he has in the past, this is likely to include more coverage of his views and his affiliation with far right extremist groups leading to an erosion of his support.

If we really do have a Clinton vs. Giuliani race as polled by Rasmussen, many will be hoping for a viable third party alternative. In the same poll mentioned above, Ralph Nader does even worse than Paul at 4%. Another three way poll with Michael Bloomberg running still has Clinton winning, but Bloomberg does better than Paul with 11%. Perhaps Paul’s 8% result is largely a reflection of the desire for an alternative to Clinton and Giuliani minus those who recognize Paul’s negatives.