Ron Paul Flatlines By James Joyner

Ron Paul Revolution Ron Paul’s ability to attract enthusiastic support among young people, especially online, has been quite impressive and unexpected. The degree to which that has translated into fundraising capability has been nothing short of spectacular.

But look at the national polling trend lines for the past year:

Ron Paul’s numbers are flatlined. He’s the only one of the remaining quartet that isn’t up substantially from six months ago. Despite the field winnowing from ten candidates to four, Paul continues to appeal to no more than 5-6 percent of Republicans.

With most candidates, the obvious explanation would be that their support has shifted to one of the frontrunners in a strategic move to avoid “wasting” their vote. Given the depth of Paul’s support, though, that strikes me as incredibly unlikely. The hard-core libertarians who back Paul are mostly dead-enders who would rather write in Paul’s name than deign to compromise for one of the Establishment candidates.

Could it be that hard-core libertarians are just a relatively small group? That, despite being organized and enthusiastic, there aren’t enough of them to elect a president? Barring a better explanation, I’m leaning in that direction.

This content was used with the permission of Outside the Beltway.

Hawkins’s Note: I’ve been saying this about Ron Paul for a long time.

For example, here’s something I wrote back on May 03 of 2007,

“Ron Paul isn’t going to appeal to 95% of the base, but he stands alone as an anti-war Republican and he will appeal to the relatively small contingent of Republicans who support that position. So, he may be sort of like Ralph Nader: no, he can’t win, but he may have gained the support of a certain niche group that will stick with him long-term.”

From Oct 5, 2007,

“You may be wondering if this fundraising burst changes anything as far as Ron Paul’s chances of getting the nomination are concerned. The answer is, “no.” He’s still sitting at about 2% in the polls, he doesn’t seem to be making any significant inroads with conservatives, and he alienates so many different groups of Republicans in one form or fashion that he’s not ever going to be capable of getting out of single digits nationally in the primaries.”

From Dec 21, 2007,

In other words, what Ron Paul is doing is tapping into an “untouchable” niche of American politics and his supporters are so grateful for the attention that they’re pouring money into his coffers, spamming polls for him, writing emails galore, etc.

That’s the advantage of Paul’s strategy: it has created a small, but incredibly enthusiastic group of supporters.

The disadvantage of that strategy is that because he has gone after those niche groups, he has made himself extremely unpalatable to mainstream Republicans. That means that his current level of support in the national polls, about 3%-4%, is probably much, much closer to a ceiling than a floor for him.

If Paul hasn’t taken off yet, he ain’t taking off…

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