While it represents less volume than responses stating agreement with my view of Ron Paul’s electoral chances, a portion of the emails I have been receiving represent a belief that I am overstating the case. I get a few telling me that there aren’t enough facts to support the case. I’m deluding myself and others or am simply nave.
I was surprised that there are still some cynics represented amongst Ron Paul’s supporters. I imagine them pacing back and forth, wondering if Dr Paul has a realistic shot at winning the GOP nomination. "Does this Fisk guy really believe what he’s saying? Where’s the polling data? Where’s the real evidence? When is it okay for me to take the plunge? When will it be the right time so I don’t look like an idiot optimist acting out of irrational exuberance?"
I see it as obvious, though I was a cynic prior to Ron Paul’s Presidential bid. I prefer optimism. It’s easier on the circulatory system. On the other hand, there is evidence and it’s fair to ask.
Polling data is what seems to concern the doubters. Low polling numbers would appear to be an indictment. Last quarter in New Hampshire, Ron Paul was polling at 2% in those polls which included him.
This quarter, a recent poll in New Hampshire shows Ron Paul with 6%, 22% of those being black voters. That represents 66% increase over last quarter’s poll numbers. Where his competitors are just jockeying for position, Ron Paul is gaining significantly. By the way, in 2000, only 10% of Black voters gave Bush the nod.
I’ve previously written about the way these polls are conducted and their usefulness in predicting outcomes (they can’t by definition). However, there is historical data that also tends to support the idea that early polls are not reliable predictors.
In 2003, prior to the New Hampshire and Iowa primaries, Al Sharpton was beating John Kerry in the polls 5% to 4%. Kerry went on to win both primaries and shortly thereafter was polling nationally at 53%. That’s either a very large bump or a very inaccurate result prior to the primary. There are currently a significantly high number of undecided voters (hovering between 17% and 21%) amongst the Republicans. In a field this large where only Dr. Paul has a platform that represents a real difference in policy, the "upset" factor leans heavily in Ron Paul’s favor. Many of these undecideds are waiting to see how the race progresses before making a commitment.
Let’s look at the other areas which should give us rational, objective reasons to question what the old media is attempting to sell the public.
Fundraising is another indicator of real support. Ron Paul raised 5 million last quarter which isn’t as much as Thompson, Romney or Giuliani. But it represents a 114% increase over second quarter fundraising. It will also be used far more efficiently than other campaigns which have yet to acquire significant grass roots support for the money they’ve raised and spent so far. This is a very important issue. Romney has been running millions of dollars worth of television ads and does not have much to show for it. And more and more, old media members continue to hop on Ron Paul’s bandwagon.
The bad news for Paul’s competitors doesn’t stop there. James Dobson who has inherited the Christian Coalition (now "Values Voters") is threatening to pull his support from the entire GOP field. Ron Paul doesn’t necessarily need this segment of the Republican base to win the nomination but if we read Dobson’s message correctly, he would get that support if he were the nominee. The "front-runners" have no chance of carrying the Party without them and it doesn’t appear that any are pro-life enough for Dobson.
Romney’s campaign stops in New Hampshire are drawing no more than 100 supporters and I’m being generous (many of those are old media representatives). At one stop, he managed to commit the dumbest campaign move so far: turn his back on a wheel-chair-bound Muscular Dystrophy sufferer, who asked if Romney would have him arrested for using medical marijuana, while the cameras rolled.
John McCain was caught on tape at an event where a whopping one supporter(s) showed up to see what he had to say.
Fred Thompson hasn’t been on the trail very long, but has already been freeped by Ron Paul supporters at a stop in Iowa and had to literally request applause at a recent event attended by less than 50; perhaps they came merely out of curiosity given their apparent lack of enthusiasm for Thompson’s positions.
Unless Tancredo, Brownback, Keyes, Hunter and Huckabee are saving up campaign event videos, there seems to be no significant interest in their candidacies except by the small number of people contacted via landline for opinions.
In short, the other candidates have been as exciting to potential voters as watching paint dry.
None of the GOP candidates have had much luck beating Ron Paul in straw polls either. It’s hard to say how this might predict the outcome of primary elections. However, 14 of 30 first place finishes with 10 of 30 resulting in top 3 finishes is indisputable evidence that his chances are far more real than the old media is willing to admit. Many of the first place finishes were overwhelming landslides. If those represent party growth, we see another reason why Ron Paul has a very good chance to make history.
Meanwhile, Ron Paul has rarely drawn a crowd of less than 800 people for the past three months. On Saturday in Nashville, an event organized before his fundraising success had been announced, Dr. Paul drew a crowd of 1,440 at War Memorial auditorium. That was the crowd inside. Almost 100 people were turned away at the door because the venue was filled to capacity.
The prior week, in New Hampshire, at least 800 arrived to help the Paul Family canvas New Hampshire neighborhoods. These were not paid campaign staffers. Everyone there paid their own way, came from several surrounding states and worked all day to knock on some 12,000 doors in support of Ron Paul.
After last night’s debates, Ron Paul held a rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I caught a little bit of this from the live feed. In my estimation, there were almost 2000 people there. The growth in just the past few days has been staggering. The campaign has reported a daily sign up of 20,000 new supporters. If that pace remains steady, the number of new supporters will reach 600,000 before November 1st. (Hello? McFly! Does this seem like a long shot to you?)
From New Hampshire to Washington, thousands upon thousands have gathered at Ron Paul appearances. If this were happening for any of the alleged front-runners, it would generate an inordinate amount of press coverage. It isn’t happening. The rest of the field consists of paper tigers. Giuliani is said to "wow" crowds of 200.
New media types, even ones who are not necessarily Ron Paul supporters are openly saying that a Ron Paul upset in New Hampshire and Iowa is a very real possibility. Here’s what David Kopel had to say:
"This weekend, I attended and spoke at the Second Amendment Foundation’s annual Gun Rights Policy Conference, which was held at a convention center in northern Kentucky, a few miles away from Cincinnati. What I saw and heard there changed my mind about the viability of Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy; Paul is going to far outperform the expectations laid out for him."
As a supporter, I could be accused of being overly optimistic merely because I want him to win. I predicted he would win back in June before there was evidence of the statistical sort. Not because I am particularly smart, psychic or able to time-travel. It was (and is) the fervor of his supporters and the amazing coalition he has united to the message of freedom which made it obvious to me that this campaign is historic.
Please, fence-sitters out there: this revolution will roll with or without you. Do something that you haven’t done in a while and just get involved. Show up at an event, make a donation, believe. Oh, yeah, don’t expect me to revert to cynicism any time soon.
Rick Fisk [send him mail] is a 45-year-old software developer and entrepreneur. He is married, has 3 children and resides in Austin, TX.