Paul’s Chances Diminished By Conduct Of Supporters

There have been many stories in the media regarding the behavior of Paul supporters in the blogosphere. There have also been stories regarding Paul supporters hassling other candidates. Dave Nalle, a libertarian who supports political action in the Republican Party, warns that the behavior of Ron Paul’s supporters at Republican gatherings is also counterproductive:

In party politics it doesn’t matter how right you are, it only matters how many people are convinced that you have a winning strategy. Paul’s supporters don’t understand this or don’t want to understand it. They’re thinking in terms of running an outsider, grassroots campaign. But Paul deliberately didn’t run as an independent. He showed the good sense to run as a Republican, knowing all of the advantages of access and opportunity he would have in the primaries and the base of support he’d be able to count on in the general election if he won the nomination.

Paul’s supporters don’t seem to respect his decision to run as a Republican, and in this area he had the right idea and they are dead wrong. Regardless of the fact that he’s drawn supporters from every quarter of the lunatic fringe and even from the far left, he’s not going to make it to the election if he doesn’t win the Republican primary, and he’s not going to win the primary if his followers alienate too many people within the GOP. Even if his followers don’t like it, Paul is running as a Republican and he has to play the party game…

You can’t show up in a hotel ballroom full of people who look like they graduated high school with Ronald Reagan carrying signs and shouting slogans and not expect them to go all Berkeley-in-69 on your ass and shut you down. They’ve got their uppers out and they’re sucking on rubber chicken and as far as they can tell you’re the next generation of the hippy apocalypse come back for vengeance.

Paul supporters begin with a difficult situation in the Republican Party as Paul’s views are so far out of line with Republican thought. Paul supporters like to claim that the polls don’t reflect his true support, or that more people would support him if he could get his message out. They were saying this when both Paul and Huckabee were in single digits in the polls and both were struggling to get attention. Both began to receive coverage following their debate performances. Huckabee’s views are supported by many Republicans and he has moved up in the polls, showing that the polls really do measure support if a candidate is able to attract it. There is support for a theocon in the GOP, but not for someone campaigning against the neocons. Paul remains in single digits.

Regardless of what Paul’s supporters did at Republican gatherings it is unlikely they could have won over many Republicans. However their behavior only reduces the possibility of winning support. Paul supporters seem to believe that they can improve their standing by insulting those they disagree with. Their conduct will only make party regulars more determined to stop Paul.

While the biggest story on the day of the Iowa caucuses will be about the winners, it will also be interesting to see how Paul does. On the one hand it is possible, considering the enthusiasm of his supporters, that Paul will out perform his current position in the polls. It is also possible that they have burned so many bridges with Republicans that they will find ways to shut down his supporters in the caucuses. They will complain of conspiracies working against them, but they will largely have themselves to blame.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Mark says:

    Nalle’s article actually was received quite favorably by the grassroots leaders, and there was a less critical article at LRC by George Ajjan that still had a similar point to Nalle. I blogged about this yesterday, but there does seem to be the beginnings of a movement towards greater self-policing by Paul supporters.

    It’s probably too little, too late, but it’s still worth paying attention to.

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