There’s no doubt that Ron Paul supporters have to be discouraged today. After all, New Hampshire was supposed to be his state. Sure, you’ll hear Paulites talking about how Nevada is actually going to be his state, and if that doesn’t pan out it’ll be California, but just because you have money to spend in contests doesn’t mean you have any chance of winning them. And so the amount of stories like this will start to be the only ones written about him…
For months now the growing thousands of Ron Paul supporters across the country have been saying virtually everywhere they could, including the comments section of this blog by the hundreds, that the media, the polls and the prognosticators were all wrong. There was a conspiracy.
Those Paul supporters were actually correct. The media, the polls and the prognosticators were, indeed, all wrong — about Barack Obama handily beating Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary. The media that the Paul camp loves to hate was actually dead-on right about Ron Paul. He was a long shot. He misfired again. And he got pretty much the same share of New Hampshire GOP votes as the progressive polls, that Paulunteers also despise as frauds and fixed, unrepresentative statistical snapshots, had indicated he had all along.
I doubt that newsletter story really hurt him much in New Hampshire. The fallout after? Well, he’ll start losing supporters after today because of the combination of his loss and that story, but that muckraking probably only lost him a few hundred people tops in the Granite State. Still not enough to think he could have climbed to 4th. And folks, when you finish with 8% of the vote in the state with the biggest concentration of independents, well, it’s time to rethink whether or not you should be in the race. New Hampshire is tailor made for a Libertarian message, and it just didn’t resonate last night.
So what next?
Paul has the money to keep pushing through till after Super Tuesday, but it’s unlikely his campaign is going to catch fire and convert a ton of GOP voters over to his POV. He has been, is and always will be a candidate with a 3rd party message. You can’t expect to change a party completely when the the voters of that party still, by and large, support their leaders and the ideas they’re pushing.
What’s more, and you all are going to hate me for this, but at this point Paul’s campaign has been less successful than Howard Dean’s. I know, I’m ready for the onslaught, but look at the facts. All he has done is raise a bunch of money. He hasn’t changed any of the other candidates’ positions. Howard Dean turned the entire Dem establishment against the war, and that was ultimately the legacy of that campaign. Well, that and Howard Dean became the Democratic National Committee Chairman. A pretty decent coup for a so called “crazy” man.
So you have to ask yourself, what will Paul’s mark on this campaign be? How is he really effecting the dialogue? The most I think he could hope for is GOP candidates start talking a lot more about reigning in spending, but they were talking about that long before Paul came on the scene. Sure, some of Paul’s more hardline Libertarian ideas might catch on eventually, but something tells me it won’t be during the campaign season.
Where does all of this leave us? Well, if Paul continues deluding himself and his supporters that they can actually win the GOP nomination, I think he’s doing a disservice to the message of freedom that has attracted so much money and attention. It’s time to start pushing him to go 3rd party folks, otherwise all of your hard work will stop dead in its tracks in a little less than a month. Because that’s what will happen. I doubt he’s going to get any more massive money bombs dropped in his lap after these two losses. So the money will dry up, and after that…POOF! But if you start pushing him to go 3rd party, if you demand that he keeps running, then that gives the campaign new life to start raising money and mounting a national campaign to push his message on a national level. Sure, it’s going to be much more of an uphill battle because of the newsletter story, but one big press conference where he explains it all and admits he’s ashamed he let this happen under his name will heal a lot of wounds.
So, what will you do? Because you do realize it’s up to you, right? You created the idea of Ron Paul and you can recreate that idea if you want. But it’s fast approaching midnight and when the clock roll overs to Feb 6th, you may just find yourself holding the pieces of a broken campaign with no possible way of putting it back together again.