Palin and Paul are rapidly emerging as the Tea Party favorites, despite critical differences on certain foreign policy, fiscal, and social issues.
According to the latest Politico/TargetPoint exit poll, which questioned over 400 protestors at the Washington DC Tea Party rally on April 15, Sarah Palin and Ron Paul appeared to be the most popular figures in the movement. Two questions, in particular, presented intriguing answers:
1. What politician today best exemplifies the goals of the Tea Party movement?
Sarah Palin topped the list with 15% of the vote, while Ron Paul came in second with 12% of the vote.
2. Of the following choices (for President in 2012*), which one would you support?
Sarah Palin topped the list with 15% of the vote, while Ron Paul came in a close second with 14% of the vote. Mitt Romney finished third with 13%.
Despite the close vote, Palin and Paul are quite different in a few, key areas.
Before Obama was elected, Ron Paul fathered the original Tea Party movement by calling out a GOP running huge deficits, amassing trillions of dollars of new debt, and devaluing the Dollar. Palin, on the other hand, was defending the Wall St bailout and running on a platform of ostensibly unbalanced budgets as a running mate of John McCain in 2008. Now, Palin has become a vocal critic of Obama's big spending ways.
On foreign policy, Palin is a staunch supporter of the current War on Terror, while Paul is a strident critic of current war policy and the record military budget.
On social issues, Palin is a staunch cultural conservative, while Paul, though personally conservative, believes state governments, and not the Federal government, should determine their own policies when it comes to drugs, marriage, and abortion.
Ironically, though, in many ways, supporters of both Palin and Paul possess a number of similar core similarities, as evidenced by the poll. They are extremely concerned about the size of the budget deficit, the explosive national debt, and the rapid expansion of the Federal government.
In the coming months, expect the competition to intensify between the Palin and Paul camps. As I wrote in my previous article Ron Paul shocks the political establishment again, a CNN poll revealed that Republicans are more keen on Palin, but Paul is far more competitive with Obama as the recent Rasmussen poll showed.
For now, the (post-Obama) Tea Party movement gives the edge to Palin, but voters across the political spectrum, especially Independents, give the clear advantage to Dr. Paul.
This will be an exciting contest to follow.
* Editor's note: author added statement for purpose of clarification