It has nearly become a journalistic convention to editorialize alongside any reference to Texas congressman Ron Paul that the 2012 presidential candidate is considered by many to be unelectable. Or, that other than some interesting points of view and a curiously energized following, Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy is unserious, that the Republican Party’s constitutionalist– as Mitt Romney recently called Paul in a debate— has no viable path to the White House.
Just last month for example, iconic conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh made an appearance on Fox News Channel‘s On The Record with Greta van Sustren and said, “I think right now anybody other than Ron Paul could beat Obama if the election were tomorrow.” But this claim isn’t just being repeated by talk radio hosts who stand opposite of Ron Paul in the Republican Party’s internecine battle over principles and policy, it’s being repeated by presumably objective news anchors and writers– it’s showing up as a random aside in Associated Press reports, whose authors can’t seem to bear mentioning Ron Paul’s name without editorializing that the presidential hopeful is “often dismissed as unelectable by members of his own party.”
But is Ron Paul actually unelectable? Do the facts support that claim? Whether you agree with Ron Paul’s political views or not, whether you think he should be the Republican Party’s nominee or not, his actual electability as a presidential candidate is an entirely separate question– one that can be answered by investigating the facts instead of merely repeating the same opinion ad nauseam and hoping it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the status quo‘s cheerleaders in the media have seemingly been doing.
As is consistently attested by poll results and even the Republican Party’s most recent primary votes in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, the facts are these: Ron Paul performs better among independents than any other Republican candidate for the presidential nomination. He also performs better among young voters under 30 than any other Republican. Ron Paul also outperforms any of the remaining Republican candidates among Democrats, liberals, moderates, and low-income voters.
Independents, people under 30, liberals, moderates, and low income voters are all key constituencies that helped Obama win his primary and the general election in 2008. It only stands to reason that the candidate with the broadest appeal to Obama’s key voters and the greatest chance of swaying their votes is the most electable candidate. Even former Florida Governor Jeb Bush realizes that the Republicans can only win the general election with a candidate who appeals to independents, which is why he recently admonished the GOP’s candidates, saying “You have to maintain your principles but have a broader appeal.”
Maintain principles while having a broader appeal? Even Ron Paul’s critics will concede that he is extremely principled. The facts, meanwhile, show that Ron Paul also has the broadest appeal to voters. That’s why it’s no surprise that Paul runs neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in hypothetical general election match ups according to the polls, another fact that disproves the constantly-repeated claim that Ron Paul is not electable. The polls show that in fact, Ron Paul is more electable than any other Republican candidate except for Mitt Romney, with whom he is tied– and both are tied against President Obama.
It’s one thing to offer substantive criticisms of Ron Paul’s candidacy and beliefs, but it’s another thing entirely to mislead voters into thinking that his chances of winning are much worse than the facts actually indicate they are. It’s up to the media to inform voters, not pick the nominee for them. The media owes Ron Paul, but more importantly, owes its audience a less misleading assessment of Ron Paul’s electability. Members of the media should set the record straight. Because of his strong appeal to independents, moderates, young voters, and low income voters, Ron Paul does as well or better than any other Republican candidate in a general election match up with President Obama. Those are facts. Like him or not, Ron Paul’s electable.