I can think of no better Christmas gift to offer LRC readers than evidence that Ron Paul is likely to be the next president.
So, for the sake of those who, unlike me, have had better things to do since January than to spend at least an hour every day reading about Ron Paul, here's a look at where things stand now, less than two weeks before the primary and caucus season begins.
The Dec. 16 Tea Party "money bomb" brought in just over $6 million, bringing Dr. Paul's fourth quarter total to about $18.5 million, as of today.
For comparison, here are the candidates' numbers for the third quarter, with the second quarter totals in parenthesis to indicate trends:
- Giuliani: $10,258,019 (Q2: $17.6 million)
- Romney: $9,896,719 – not counting loans he made to himself from his personal fortune (Q2: $20.1 million)
- Thompson: $9,750,821 (Not an official candidate in Q2)
- McCain: $5,734,478 (Q2: $11.6 million)
- Paul: $5,258,456 (Q2: $2.4 million)
- Huckabee: $1,034,486 (Q2: $766,000)
As you can see, except for Huckabee – who had a modest gain, and Thompson – who wasn't yet a candidate, all of the candidates besides Paul saw their donations decline significantly from the second quarter to the third; Romney's and McCain's declined by more than 50%.
Paul is the only Republican to provide real-time fundraising data on his site, which alone probably indicates that the other candidates’ totals this quarter are embarrassing compared to his.
However, based on the candidates' previous quarter donation totals and trends, and on current news snippets and rumors about fundraising, we can speculate about where Paul's current total puts him in the race.
It's safe to assume that everyone besides Paul and Huckabee will raise less this quarter than they did in the third. To be conservative, let's assume they'll raise about the same. Even then, Paul has almost certainly raised at least double the total of the next-highest fundraiser, and at least as much as the next two combined.
Huckabee is probably raising more this quarter than last, but his fundraising is rumored to still be anemic.
News reports indicate that Thompson is nearly broke. He has recently canceled a lot of TV and direct mail ads in Iowa and is already making the first contest his last stand, planning to spend the next two weeks touring Iowa on a bus in hopes of a top-three finish. If he comes in lower than third, which is likely, he’s probably finished.
Rumors have been circulating for a couple of weeks that Giuliani is nearly broke too. Plus his original strategy of giving up the early states and concentrating on bigger, more delegate-rich states (while one or two of his opponents fall by the wayside), beginning with a win in Florida on January 29 to propel into Super Tuesday on February 5, is likely to fail. For one thing, his poll standing in those big states is imploding; he’s down to third place in Florida. It appears he’s rethinking his strategy and may make a play for the early states, but it’s probably too late. He may wind up like Lieberman, who was shoved down everyone’s throat by the Establishment in 2003 as the presumptive nominee, only to not win one primary in 2004.
McCain has been coasting on fumes financially for six months, despite repeated attempts by the Establishment to resurrect his campaign.
Romney will never run out of money because he’s personally worth more than $200 million, but that’s the only reason he wasn’t bankrupt and out of the race months ago; he finished the previous quarter with more than $8 million in debt – nearly as much as his cash-on-hand. He’s probably in the strongest position to get the nomination besides Paul; his support is as soft and manufactured as the other anointed candidates, but he may be the only one besides Paul who has the money to last past the first few states.
Regarding Huckabee, three months ago, I speculated that Alan Keyes had been recruited into the race by the GOP Establishment to help muddle up the debates and deflect attention from Paul. The anointing of Huckabee as a real contender, magically rising more than 20 points in Establishment polls in just the past 23 weeks, shows that I grossly underestimated the Establishment’s predicament. Not only was there still no clear front-runner with just a few weeks to go, but what support the anointed candidates had earlier in the year was softening even further, so the Establishment has had to elevate Huckabee. But he’s as weak a candidate as ever, and he still has little grassroots support and is rumored to have little money.
In addition to its superior fundraising, the Paul campaign has the added financial advantage of relying mostly on volunteers and spontaneous, bottom-up support. That and Dr. Paul's record of integrity and judicious spending mean they're not wasting money like the other campaigns, that almost every dollar is spent to get votes, rather than to make work for political hacks.
After the tipping point on November 5th, I began to wish that Paul had begun his campaign one quarter earlier; assuming everything else would've happened the same, that would've made Q3 the breakout quarter, with Q4 to build it further before the primaries. However, the upside of the timing is that the mainstream expectations for Paul in the elections are still low overall, which means he still has nowhere to go but up.
Paul is clearly the tortoise in the race, and his financial standing is looking very, very good.
It's likely that Paul's poll numbers are unrealistically low for reasons that have been discussed at length this year, on this site and elsewhere, such as: Far fewer people with landlines, especially if they're young; people with caller ID not answering their phones; and Paul pulling support from Democrats, Independents, third-party members, people previously apolitical, and people too young to vote in 2004.
Amazingly, some polling companies still aren’t even offering Paul as an option. One Paul supporter recorded a call he received from a major pollster and put the audio on YouTube. The recording offered the top five “legitimate” choices, followed by instructions to press six for “other.” When he pressed six, the computer informed him that he wouldn’t be called again.
The latest poll from USA Today/Gallup even shows Keyes with the same support as Paul, with 3%! Does anyone really believe that Paul only has 3%; that Keyes even has 3%; or that, whatever Paul’s real level of support is, Keyes in his wildest dreams has even 1% of that?
While I realize that there is a methodology and polls aren’t entirely worthless or made up, when I compare Paul’s campaign to his poll numbers, I’m starting to think the term “scientific poll” should be replaced with “arbitrary numbers that have absolutely no connection whatsoever to reality.” (Incidentally, Kerry was at 4% at this point in 2003 – behind even Al Sharpton and lower than Paul is now, while Gephardt, Lieberman and Dean were far ahead; Kerry won Iowa and New Hampshire and knocked all three of them out of the race almost immediately. This article by Murray Sabrin underscores my point; it’s a good look at Iowa and why Paul supporters shouldn't be discouraged by polls.)
But, for informational purposes, here are the most recent poll numbers:
Nationally, Paul is averaging about 5%; the list of recent polls is available here.
The state-by-state polls are available here. Paul is averaging about 7% in Iowa and New Hampshire, which puts him ahead of McCain (6%) in Iowa and far ahead of Thompson (3%) in New Hampshire.
Caucus & Primary Schedule and Nomination Information
(Please understand that I'm not trying to insult anyone by offering such basic information; my intention is to provide a one-stop article with all of the pertinent information regarding where the Paul campaign stands at this point. I was unclear about all of these details myself until I researched them.)
The Republican National Convention will be held from September 1–4, 2008, in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Delegates are assigned to each state based on the state's population; the process is complicated, but the (admittedly oversimplified) gist of it is the candidates accumulate a percentage of the stateu2018s delegates in some states proportionally to the percentage of the vote they receive in that state, while other states have a winner-take-all system, where the winner gets all of the delegates and the runners-up get none. There are 2,516 delegates at stake in 2008, and a simple majority of 1,259 delegates is required to secure the nomination.
Some states have primaries, while others have caucuses. The difference is a primary is a standard election where voters just go to the polls, whereas a caucus is like a mini-convention, where voters gather, socialize and hear speeches before voting. Today, most states have primaries.
Turnout for either type is always abysmally low, but turnout for caucuses is even worse because it requires a several hour commitment, rather than a few minutes to vote in a primary. The first contest, in Iowa on January 3, is a caucus, so that bodes extra well for Paul, whose supporters are by far the most likely to show up and sit through a bunch of boring speeches in order to vote.
Here’s the schedule:
- Jan. 3: Iowa Caucuses
- Jan. 8: New Hampshire Primary
- Jan. 15: Michigan Primary
- Jan. 19: Nevada Caucus & South Carolina Primary
- Jan. 29: Florida Primary
- Feb. 2: Maine Caucus
The next date with contests is Feb. 5, which has been dubbed “Super Tuesday” because 20 states are having their primaries or caucuses that day. The nominee will likely be determined that day.
That is, assuming someone emerges with enough delegates to go into the convention with the nomination. A number of astute political observers have done the math and say that a brokered convention is fairly likely. One of the wrinkles in my oversimplified explanation of the delegate process is that over 25% of the delegates are not elected by the voters, but are controlled by party leaders. If it’s possible for things to shake out in such a way that Paul needs the votes of those “super delegates,” and they have the option of getting a different nominee by throwing their support behind someone else with fewer voter-received delegates than Paul, they might do it, making this the first convention since the beginning of the television era (the last time this happened for the Republicans was 1948; for the Democrats, 1952) that’s more than a very, very expensive, taxpayer-funded sideshow.
Even if there is a brokered convention, I wouldn’t discount Paul. For one thing, the media will have no choice but to cover him after he emerges as a contender, which means he’ll have another seven months to lobby for support going into the convention. Even in the face of a near-total mainstream media blackout this year, the Ron Paul Revolution has proven unstoppable. There’s no reason to expect it to slow down if he emerges as one of two or three contenders for the nomination, where he will remain with incessant media coverage for seven straight months.
While Paul’s fundraising has gotten him more media attention than he’d received previously, and some – like Jim Cramer and Glenn Beck – almost sucked up to him when previously the would’ve been hostile, he’s still receiving a tiny fraction of the attention the anointed front-runners are receiving, and much of it is still derisive.
The second I found out in January that Paul was considering running, I knew the mainstream media would ignore him as much as possible.
But why are they continuing that strategy when the evidence is all around them that it’s failing miserably, that they can’t distort reality the way they could prior to the Internet? Inertia? Denial?
They have to know ignoring him isn’t working, but my guess is they just don’t know what else to do. They, and – more importantly – their owners, to whose vested interests the Paul movement is a deadly threat, are sitting, paralyzed with fear and confusion. They tried ignoring him and it didn’t work. They tried laughing at him and it didn’t work. They tried attacking him and it didn’t work, largely because Paul’s character is so beyond reproach that probably not one person in 10,000 could match it, so what little they were able to dredge up was embarrassingly weak (like Paul receiving a $500 donation from a white supremacist, as if Paul is responsible for that and should personally do a background check on each of his thousands of donors; as if Paul had ever espoused such views; or as if such unsavory donors couldn't be found for any other candidate). So what else is there to do but to try and not think about the problem, to try not to draw attention to him, and to pray for the best?
But it won’t work.
While I never would’ve dreamed that such a thing were possible in January, and even leaving my personal wishes aside and trying to view the race as a neutral observer, every indication is that Ron Paul is going to be the next President of the United States.
More importantly, the Establishment never dreamed back in January that such a thing was possible either. Political pundits have been discounting Paul all year; predictably, in reporting the Tea Party fundraising total, they continued to use terms like “distant long-shot” for the nomination, with the requisite “evidence” of one of the few things the Establishment still (somewhat) controls: the polls. No honest, objective journalist could look at Paul’s campaign and conclude that he’s anything but a front-runner, if not the front-runner. You can only be so biased before even the most unsophisticated person can see through it.
Establishment political hacks have been wrong about every single prediction they’ve made about Paul this year. Why should we believe them now? Like all of his successes this year, Ron’s victories next month are going to blindside them.
As Dr. Paul commented during his rally speech after last month's CNN/YouTube debate, quoting Victor Hugo, "No army can stop an idea whose time has come."
Don’t look for Christmas gifts from me the next two years. Regardless of what your calendar says, I expect Christmas to come on November 4 next year; on December 25, I will have nothing to offer to top it. And Christmas 2009 will be on January 20. Feel free to mark your calendars now.
December 22, 2007