By W. E. Messamor | Humble Libertarian | May 24, 2011
If Ron Paul wins the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 after a losing bid in 2008, he wouldn't be the first candidate to do so. Indeed, the GOP's last nominee, John McCain, only won the party's nomination in 2008 after losing it to Bush in 2000. Even Ronald Reagan lost his 1976 bid for the party's nomination before winning it in 1980. But does Ron Paul have a real shot at winning this time around? Absolutely. All you Ron Paul supporters out there can actually win this for him in the next two years.
Here are ten reasons why:
1. Ronald Reagan
Who's that one guy that the Republicans are desperately trying to find to unite and lead their party? That one president who every single Republican (and even Democrats, including Obama) quotes and hearkens back to as a voice for America's greatness, prosperity, and success? That one man who could get you hammered out of your mind if you played a drinking game where you took a shot every time his name was mentioned at a Republican debate? Oh yeah- Ronald Reagan.
And with Haley Barbour officially out of the 2012 race, guess which presidential hopeful is the ONLY ONE in the entire field to have ever been endorsed by Ronald Reagan? That's right: Ron Paul. So Mr. (or Ms.) Republican Primary voter, do you heart Ronald Reagan? Guess who Ronald Reagan hearts? Ron Paul. In a tight congressional race, Reagan gave Paul this endorsement:
"Ron Paul is one of the outstanding leaders fighting for a stronger national defense. As a former Air Force officer, he knows well the needs of our armed forces, and he always puts them first. We need to keep him fighting for our country."
Not only did the Gipper endorse Ron Paul, he said Ron Paul understands our armed forces' needs very well, always puts them first, and is an outstanding leader in the fight for a strong national defense. So next time you hear someone say Ron Paul is weak on national defense, just ask them: "So you think Ronald Reagan was wrong?" And then tell them about his endorsement. If Reagan says Ron Paul's views on foreign policy and national defense are solid... that should be good enough for the GOP.
2. Name Recognition
Half the battle is name recognition. In 2007 and 2008, no one had a clue who Ron Paul was. He had never done anything remarkable in Congress (other than consistently vote for liberty and rule of law each and every time he voted for 20 years as a congressman that is), sponsored a bill that actually passed, or made much of an impact on his colleagues. To anyone who even knew who the man was, he was just a curiosity-- a physician from Texas who had delivered half of his own constituents and often ended up on the losing side of 434-1 votes.
Supporters of Ron Paul's 2008 bid will remember how frustrated they were with media blackouts of relevant and newsworthy developments in Ron Paul's campaign, how little attention the Texas congressman received in debates, and how condescending and rude his interviewers often were. Everything's different now. Gone are the days of those highway signs that said "Who is Ron Paul?" or "Google Ron Paul." No one has to Google Ron Paul to find out what he stands for anymore. He's a household name.
A recent Gallup poll found that Ron Paul has 76% name recognition among Republicans-- more than Bachmann, Daniels, Pawlenty, Santorum, Huntsman, Johnson, and Cain, and within striking distance of Romney and Gingrich. In addition, Ron Paul is now a regular guest on national media outlets, and his interviewers often accord him a kind of respect that he certainly never got in 2008.
3. Poll numbers
The numbers are in Ron Paul's favor this time around. In a shock poll which headlined The Drudge Report mere hours before the first Republican Primary debate in South Carolina, CNN found that Ron Paul would perform better against Barack Obama in a hypothetical 2012 general election match up than any other hopeful in the entire Republican field. That's why Ron Paul has a shot at taking the lead in the crucial primary state of New Hampshire where he actually came in second among primary voters in a recent CNN poll.
Coming in second place in New Hampshire's primary is in itself, marked progress over Ron Paul's 2008 performance, and though he still trails New Hampshire's front runner, Mitt Romney, by 24 points, the libertarian Ron Paul has a lot of time to close that gap in the "Live Free or Die" state, especially because New Hampshire primary voters seemed most interested in Romney's ability to defeat Obama in 2012, with 42% saying Mitt Romney is the candidate who can do it.
Good campaigning in New Hampshire is all it will take to educate voters there that Ron Paul is statistically the stronger candidate to challenge Obama in 2012. And any more "let's hang Obama" gaffes out of Mitt Romney might really hurt his electability and along with it, his chances of taking New Hampshire.
4. He's actually trying this time.
Ron Paul's last presidential bid was not a serious one and Ron Paul actually did better than he thought he would-- a lot better. His only purpose was to use the national stage and platform of a presidential campaign to spread his libertarian ideas, ideas that would soon drive the political narrative and energize Tea Party voters to swing the House of Representatives back to the Republican Party in 2010. Ron Paul wasn't running to win before. It was just an educational campaign. But Ron Paul's in it to win it this time around, and has put together a solid campaign staff to achieve that goal.
Starting months ago, Ron Paul has been stepping up his visits and appearances in the key primary states of Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, where he's assembled teams to identify, communicate to, and turn out voters for the win. After a meteoric, record-setting, game-changing, narrative-jolting campaign that Ron Paul didn't even intend to win, imagine what he might be able to accomplish with an already existing, super-energized, political machine that is ready to actually win, and has had a couple years to learn from its past mistakes and practice winning elections (which it did to spectacular effect with Rand Paul's long shot, dark horse Senate race in Kentucky).
5. The Internet
You thought the Internet changed the political landscape back in 2007 and 2008? Oh what a difference just a couple years can make in technology time! The Internet gave Ron Paul a distinct advantage over his establishment opponents, and helped compensate for his disadvantages. He set fundraising records twice in the final quarter of 2007 with his online "money bombs." An extensive online network of Ron Paul Meetup groups-- more than for any other candidate-- cropped up spontaneously and sent out thousands of hardworking Ron Paul drones in real life to do the kind of grassroots work that wins campaigns.
This time around, the Internet is bigger, bolder, better, more powerful, more social, and more populous than ever before. Its effects on the news cycle, the media narrative, and even elections has never been greater, and that bodes well for candidate Ron Paul, because as Susan Westfall wrote at LewRockwell.com, "The Internet is indisputably Ron Paul country as countless polls and google trends have repeatedly shown." Get ready to see the Internet play a greater role than ever in electoral politics, and as a result, to see Ron Paul gain just that much more of an edge over the rest of the field.
6. Economic prescience
Ron Paul was right. Whatever else you may say or think about Ron Paul, he's got that going for him and there's no denying it. He predicted the collapse of the financial and housing bubbles before they happened, he railed against inflationary monetary policy before the dollar started taking a dive, and he focused on his message of fiscal conservatism in 2008 before the Tea Party made that the most pressing political issue in our national conversation.
This is part of the reason Ron Paul is now invited as a guest on so many national television and radio programs, and why many of his interviewers now respect and listen to him carefully when he speaks. In a political election cycle that will be dominated by fiscal and economic issues, Ron Paul will stand out from his opponents, not only as the candidate who made these issues priorities before the rest of us did, but who was right about them and held the positions on these issues that are now popular in the most energized segments of the voting populace.
7. War fatigue
One of the primary reasons for Ron Paul's sudden rise to national prominence in 2008 was the same reason he didn't ultimately go on to win his party's nomination-- he was opposed to the wars in Central Asia and advocated bringing the troops home. But like his economic views, Ron Paul's 2008 stance on foreign policy was ahead of its time.
With our national debt through the roof, tens of thousands more troops in the Middle East, some of the deadliest months since combat began if Afghanistan, Obama's unconstitutional war in Libya, most of Al Qaeda crippled, and the recent death of Osama bin Laden, Americans of all kinds, including conservatives, are finally growing tired of the wars and feel like we've accomplished what we set out to do.
Continuing our operations overseas is making less and less sense to Republican voters, and those who were concerned about Ron Paul's foreign policy last time around, might be more inclined to agree with him in 2012. It was a clear sign of just how much things had changed since 2008 when RNC Chair Michael Steele criticized the war in Afghanistan as a war of Obama's choosing. That's the kind of Republican Party that Ron Paul will be campaigning in this time around.
8. The Tea Party
Ron Paul's first run just came a couple years too early. The Tea Party movement that stormed the political arena in early 2009 has completely changed the landscape from what it was when Ron Paul ran for president the last time. Not only does the Tea Party lend Paul added credibility because his campaign laid the groundwork for it (with mainstream media figures like Chris Wallace acknowledging that Ron Paul is the godfather of the Tea Party movement), but it has energized and activated a previously dormant niche of the voting populace, a niche that is wary of the big government records of such candidates as Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum.
The Tea Party has shifted the entire focus of the political narrative away from the last decade's War on Terror, and toward the one issue that Ron Paul has a more solid record on than any of his opponents-- limiting the size, role, and influence of Washington D.C. to a Constitutional and sane level. Before the Tea Party, Ron Paul's views were denigrated as fringe. The Tea Party movement gave lie to this claim and vindicated Ron Paul as imminently mainstream.
9. Fewer, weaker, less energized competitors
Remember how many candidates Ron Paul had to share the stage with last time around? Even then he stuck out from the crowd. It would have been easy to predict that Ron Paul would dominate the recent South Carolina debate, winning over the crowd with his common sense and principles, he shared the stage with only four other contenders, all of whom had less name recognition and weaker fundraising ability, and most of whom had questionable records when it comes to the fiscal conservatism that Republican Primary voters are looking for this election season.
Remember how Bill Clinton, a relatively unknown governor from Arkansas won the Democratic Party's nomination in 1992? Most of the stronger candidates sat it out because they didn't want the disadvantage of running against a popular incumbent. So Clinton seized the opportunity, won his party's nomination, and used the threat of an economic downturn (which pales in comparison to the one we're currently facing) to win the general election against Bush. Ron Paul has a similar opportunity, with the added advantage that he is better known, better funded, and better organized that Clinton in '92.
10. The Ron Paul Revolution
If the nomination were to go to whichever candidate's supporters want it the most badly, it would most definitely go to Ron Paul. No other candidate's supporters (with the exception of the Cainiacs) are even really that excited about their choice, certainly none of them are as energized as Ron Paul's supporters are. If there's one winning edge that Ron Paul has, which none of his opponents do, it's the grassroots Ron Paul Revolution, likely Paul's single most important advantage, and the reason for many of the other advantages he has.
And instead of building up this political movement from scratch like he did in 2008, Paul only needs to lead and mobilize an already existing and constantly-growing political movement with a depth of passion and conviction that we haven't seen from any other Republican's supporters. Their hard work will have a compounding effect on all the other factors at play, and if Ron Paul wins in 2012, it will be because of them.