The Ron Paul campaign’s strategy throughout the Republican Primaries was to play the long game, use the complicated system to their own advantage, taking delegates while not winning in the ‘beauty contests’ that were the votes themselves. However, while they did not win the long game for the Republican Nomination they may still win the longer game for the Republican Parties Soul.
The Commentator has an article out today on how Ron Paul voters may have lost Romney the election. They detail the horrific way the GOP treated Ron Paul’s delegates, how they changed the rules to stop Ron being nominated, discounted many of the delegates he had meticulously cultivated and refused to even mention him. Speaking to some Ron Paul supporting friends in the US I heard the real anger how the GOP establishment disenfranchised Ron Paul, going as far as to actively prevent some whole areas in certain states from voting as they were likely to go for Dr Paul.
While the article mentions how Ron Paul voters may have been disenfranchised it does not mention the much bigger issue: Ron Paul’s campaigners. When I attended the Ron Paul campaign in Nevada (my report for the Young Britons foundation that sent me can be found here) I was amazed at the energy and enthusiasm of the Ron Paul campaigners, all around the same age as myself (21). Mitt Romney had about 5 campaigners in the state, Santorum had an office sending out prerecorded phone calls, Gingrich didn’t even have anyone. Ron Paul had around 50 highly committed, highly energetic, young campaigners who worked 12 hours a day canvassing for him.
When Obama won in 2008 it was young enthusiastic voters and campaigners that helped him do it, Dr Paul was the only Republican candidate who excited the young crowed, those most likely to work tirelessly to campaign for him (which is one explanation why polls showed he was the only Republicna who could have beaten Obama. )
When the GOP decided to brutally attack Ron Paul, to lie and to cheat him out of delegates, they not only turned off Ron Paul voters, they turned off Ron Paul campaigners. Obama had a fantastic campaigning and fund raising team, he understood grassroots campaigns, he could get the huge number of no strings attached small donations that allowed him to equal and beat the spending of the Republicans backed by wealthy donors like Donald Trump. The only team within the GOP who understood how to replicate this was Ron Paul’s. By alienating them Mitt Romney threw away thousands of seasoned campaigners who could have tipped states in his favour, he threw away millions of dollars of potential donations and those who knew how to convince people to give them.
Mitt Romney lost because he didn’t get enough votes, while Ron Paul voters may or may not have been enough to win it for him it was Ron Paul’s campaigners which really lost Mitt the race. Those republican candidates who took Dr Paul’s message of Liberty did well on tuesday. Even Gary Johnson the libertarian candidate scored the highest number of votes the Libertarian party have ever received, undoubtedly buoyed by Ron Paul campaigners who joined his campaign in droves.
The GOP lost this election twice, firstly when they didn’t chose Ron Paul who, as the polls showed, was the only candidate who could take heavy support from Democrat voters and was the only one polling above Obama. And secondly when they decided to burn Ron Paul supporters and lose the thousands who would have campaigned day and night to turn the tide in the Republicans favour.
Simply put, Politics in the US has changed. If the Republican party don’t learn lessons from 2012 and chose a candidate who can bring Ron Paul’s impressive grassroots campaigning movement on side then it is unlikely that they will ever be able to mount a serious challenge for the White House again. If the GOP doesn’t change to represent Ron Paul’s views then they don’t have a hope. Ron Paul’s supporters are starting to elect those who hold similar views to every branch of Government despite the wishes of the Republican party. While Ron Paul didn’t win in 2012 the movement he started means the GOP has to change to win, and in that way the real victor in the election wasn’t Obama, whose policy position are basically indistinguishable from Romney, it was Ron Paul’s message of Real Hope, Real Change and Real Freedom.