Rumors of the demise of Ron Paul‘s presidential campaign have been greatly exaggerated. Never lacking an “off-script” offering to complicate the mainstream media’s primary election narrative, the Texas Congressman says he’s in the race until Tampa. An objective observer would note that momentum is on Paul’s side. Not only are his stump speeches drawing record crowds, Paul is actually winning states. But is Ron Paul an “unelectable” party crasher, as his detractors claim, or does his fiscally conservative and socially libertarian movement have a realistic shot at victory this August?
“You know, when you put my name up against Obama, I can do better than Romney,” Paul boasted in a recent CNBC interview, citing this recent poll.
In that Rasmussen survey, Paul bested the current president in a head-to-head match up by one percentage point, while Romney tied Obama at 45 percent. When asked why his strong base of support hasn’t translated into a caucus straw poll or primary win, Paul reasoned: “Because sometimes they are independents and sometimes they are democrats and they feel pretty uncomfortable going to a republican primary.”
Sure, Paul just might have the wherewithal to siphon Independents and anti-war/civil libertarian Democrats away from Obama, maybe even enough to beat the incumbent, but what is more debatable is his ability to win over the support of his own party.
For Paul (and for those with a firm grasp of the Republican party’s delegate selection process), he has won a state, two states actually. Paul told CNBC that there is still a chance for first place delegate hauls in Maine, as well as Nevada.
Whether or not the Warren G. Harding strategy of going into a national party convention with the least amount of delegates and coming out with the nomination will work in this day and age, only time can tell. But that is exactly why its way too early for Republicans to crown Romney, say many Paul supporters.
Paul would first need the guarantee of a brokered convention for his scheme to pan out. According to Paul campaign adviser Doug Wead, the most recent (and clearest) rewrite of delegate allocations has made a brokered convention more plausible.
After landslide district delegate nominating victories in Minnesota and Iowa “a number of Romney Hawks are now deeply concerned that Ron Paul has already laid the groundwork for similar success in six more caucus states,” Wead wrote in his blog.
Certainly, Paul’s caucus-state delegate strategy to maximize representation at the Republican National Convention is succeeding. His supporters have high hopes that it will be enough to capture his party’s nomination. Even if that becomes a mathematical impossibility, Paul confirmed to CNBC that he has every intention of taking his people and his platform to the RNC. Responding to criticisms of his continued efforts at obtaining the Republican presidential nomination, Paul emphasized the theoretical possibility of it happening. A marathon-like presidential primary can yield many surprises in the last leg, he has said. After all, no one foresaw Santorum’s sudden campaign collapse, Paul told CNBC.
Looking ahead there are Many proportionally awarded delegates up for grabs in California and Texas. With low voter turnouts being reported in recent primaries and a mainstream media consensus that Romney is the presumptive nominee, a delegate coup by a still-highly-energized-and-well-organized Paul base in those states can happen.
Paul also hinted to CNBC that a good number of Romney’s bound delegates would vote Paul at the convention if they had a chance. This means if the first ballot doesn’t find Romney with a majority of delegates, a second ballot might leave him worse off. Who knows how many stealth Paul delegates there are lurking about in Gingrich’s bound delegate pool as well. Of course, the double-agent game is a two way street. That said, Paul has already stated his campaign’s strategy has been four years in the making, giving his more…’zealous’ backers plenty of opportunity to infiltrate local GOP power brokering positions the nation over. Oh, and lets not forget to factor in an emerging Paul/Santorum pro-life delegate coalition.
With whispers of Speaker Gingrich bowing out if he under performs in North Carolina, Paul’s path to nomination, though still steep, will become less impeded as Romney will be forced into head-to-head competitions that might yield embarrassing outcomes for a candidate who supposedly has the nomination on lock.