Having just raised $4 million for his campaign, Ron Paul is reserving air time in Iowa next week, and appears to be readying an ad buy in excess of $100,000, according to Chris Cillizza. Paul already is running ads in New Hampshire.
The ads will alert potential Republican primary voters that there’s an anti-war option. Clearly, a portion of the Republican electorate opposes the war. It’s unclear how large that group is, but a reasonable estimate might be 15 to 20 percent of Republican primary voters. With no other anti-war option available, it’s possible that at least half of this cohort might be willing to pull the lever for an obscure, whiny congressman who thinks the U.S. brought 9/11 on itself by being engaged in the Middle East’s affairs. Thus, one can imagine Paul capturing up to 10 percent of the primary vote in a state where he’s able to do substantial advertising. If that state permits non-Republicans to vote in the primary, the number might be a bit higher.
Such a showing won’t amount to much though. No one makes a real splash with 10 to 15 percent support.
Cillizza claims that can Paul can at least “force the frontrunners to adjust their strategies to deal with him and his unique appeal,” and that “in fact, that’s already happening.” Maybe this is true at some inside baseball level that Cillizzza has detected, but I don’t see any Republican contenders moving towards an anti-war position; nor do I expect to. Indeed, it would be suicidal for a serious contender to compete for the support of Paul’s coaltion of doves, blame American-firsters, and conspiracy theorists. And most of the leading contenders are already running on a limited government platform.
In short, I expect Paul to remain largely a non-factor during the primary season.
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