Rash Predictions

How well can Ron Paul do? Here’s a fun scenario. With $5.3 million in the bank now and a fundraising target of $12 million for the fourth quarter, Paul will be able to spend competitively in the early primary states, especially New Hampshire, which already has a libertarian culture, a strong antiwar backlash (even within the GOP), and the Free State Project. I think Paul will finish in the top three in New Hampshire, ahead of two of the big four (Giuliani, Romney, McCain, Thompson). He’ll beat McCain, knocking him out of the race, and Thompson, who will find his campaign on life support going into Feb. 5’s super-duper Tuesday primaries. Romney will win Iowa but lose New Hampshire and won’t win Florida or South Carolina. Thompson might win South Carolina, but not Florida. Going into Feb. 5, Giuliani will be the Republican frontrunner by default–he’ll pick up more support from McCain’s collapse–yet the floundering Romney and Thompson campaigns will hang on, with Paul picking up momentum the whole time, as the clearest and brightest alternative to Giuliani.

I think the likely outcome is that Giuliani picks up the GOP nomination and chooses Huckabee as his running mate. This will actually accentuate the weaknesses of both candidates: Huckabee’s fiscal liberalism and Giuliani’s corruption and social liberalism. There’ll be massive conservative and libertarian demand for a third-party alternative. Will Paul run? He’s been saying he won’t, and I believe he doesn’t want to. But he might very well think the Republic deserve another choice besides Hillary and Giuliani, and there might be popular enough by the summer to warrant taking a shot.

My prediction all along has been, and still is, that Hillary will run away with the Democratic nomination and with the election. I don’t think it matters who the Republicans nominate (unless it’s Paul) or whether or not there’s a third party draining votes from the GOP. For conservatives, the best outcome would indeed be a third party making a challenge to the GOP, because that would force the Republicans to come to grips with the consequences of betraying their vaunted principles. Not that I expect any soul-searching inside the GOP to amount to much, but at least there’ll be the potential for a shake-up and deck-clearing, which is what the Right needs.

If I had to give odds, though, I’d say Paul won’t run on a third-party ticket. And, while the odds are against him winning the GOP nomination, it’s not at all impossible–not if conservatives actually vote for the small-government they always claim to believe in.

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9 thoughts on “Rash Predictions

  1. John W. Payne October 7, 2007 / 12:11 am

    Purely hypothetical, but what if Ron Paul wins Iowa and places well in New Hampshire? I don’t find it that unlikely. Iowa Republicans are pretty antiwar, and Paul supporters have the fervor necessary for the tedium of caucuses. How dramtically could that scenario change things?

  2. Daniel McCarthy October 7, 2007 / 1:38 am

    John: good point. I’d meant to say that I think Paul will finish ahead of *at least* two of the big four in New Hampshire. He has a shot at winning it outright, and in Iowa I think he’ll do very well. I’m seeing increasingly favorable signs that fiscal conservatives and social conservatives who don’t want the fiscal liberalism of Mike Huckabee are joining the Paul movement. Some of these people are not strongly antiwar, in some cases not at all antiwar, but they see Paul, rightly, as the only traditional small-government conservative in the race.

  3. Joe Populist October 7, 2007 / 4:26 am

    Thompson is a phony…his record will come out, and ruin him. Ron Paul is running 4% in the Iowa poll, I don’t see how you can even claim that he’s more then a lunatic fringe candidate, the Dennis Kuchinch or Ralph Nader of the Republican lineup.

    The problem with you guys is you actually BELIEVE the “freedom and limited government” stuff. It’s all nonsense. The Republican Party represents Wall Street Bankers and the CEO classes…and leverage the resentment of white working class against racial preferences, social liberalism and the arrogance of the urban cosmopolitans who form the leadership of the Democrat Party with barely disquised appeals to racism and jingoism.

    You remind of the movie, The Wonderful Life, where you’re waking up in Pottersville, and can’t believe how different the reality is from what you thought would happen.

  4. scott October 7, 2007 / 4:26 pm

    “Sore loser” laws prevent Paul from running third party after participating in the GOP primaries.

  5. mp October 7, 2007 / 4:26 pm

    I think there are too many party hacks voting in the primaries for Paul to make a difference. There is little difference between Clinton and Giuliani, notwithstanding their rhetoric to the contrary. So pretty much the ’08 election is already done for.

  6. Jesse Walker October 8, 2007 / 1:03 am

    “Sore loser” laws prevent Paul from running third party after participating in the GOP primaries.

    In most states they don’t, actually.

    Anyway, I doubt Paul will run as a third-party candidate, though I wish he would — though not until he goes as far as he can in the primaries, of course. His chances of winning the Republican nomination are extremely low (and I say this as someone who expects him to do well in New Hampshire and quite possibly elsewhere). His chances of winning the general election are even lower. If he were on the November ballot, I’d rather he play Perot/Wallace than play Goldwater/McGovern — i.e., I’d rather he be the wild card who pulls the debate his way by doing much better than most independent candidates do, and not the insurgent who manages to take the nomination but gets slaughtered in the general election after his own party establishment endorses Hillary and the media line up behind her. In the long run, Perot’s 17% was a lot more powerful than McGovern’s 38%.

  7. kevinjdeanna October 8, 2007 / 5:44 pm

    Dan,

    What if the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party give Dr. Paul their endorsements, even if he doesn’t want them? I know the Constitution Party is toying with this idea.

  8. Daniel McCarthy October 10, 2007 / 5:03 am

    Kevin: Paul could then do his best William Tecumseh Sherman impression by saying “if nominated, I will not accept, if elected, I will not serve,” but I like to think that Paul wouldn’t want to emulate bloody Willy T. in any respect. The Constitution Party is apparently very eager to have a high-profile candidate, so anything could happen.

    The sore loser laws are an issue but, as Jesse’s link above indicates, most states don’t have ’em, and if Paul were on the Libertarian or Constitution ticket, even if his name couldn’t appear on the ballot he could still campaign urging Texans (for example) to vote for the LP or CP. “Sore loser laws” can’t bind an electoral college elector, after all.

    But it’s all pretty far-fetched, I have to admit.

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