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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Ron Paul surge is bigger trouble for Barack Obama than Mitt Romney.

Conventional wisdom has the Ron Paul boomlet in Iowa spelling trouble for Republicans. I suggest that it’s actually more trouble for Obama. Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal seems to have a glimpse of the reasons behind this, but swerves back to looking at it only from the perspective of the Republican field. Here is part of his article:
The first [problem] is a cranky congressman from Texas named Ron Paul who won't disown a third-party spoiler candidacy. The second problem is the Ron Paul vote, which as we'll see has little to do with Ron Paul.
The Ron Paul vote is a separate matter. In June, polling put the familiar Mr. Paul at about 5.5% for the Iowa caucus and 8% nationally. That would be his normal ceiling. Suddenly, Ron Paul is the Iowa front-runner at over 22.5% and is up to 12% nationally. Why?

Is this surge a vote for the congressman named Ron Paul? Impossible. It's in fact the Republican Party protest vote. Since summer, this block of votes has jumped from one candidate to another, desperate for an anti-Obama champion whose anti-Washington intensity matches its own….

The Paul candidacy is of course doomed. But the Paul vote won't die. This vote has been building in the depths of the American political ocean since the spending spree of the second Bush term. These people see the upward spending trend in annual outlays and accumulated commitments not as a "problem," as the Beltway prefers, but as a threat to their well-being.

Here’s the point that I believe Henninger misses. “These people” who are fuelling the Paul boomlet, and before that the Bachman/Perry/Cain/Gingrich boomlets, are not just the Republican protest vote. Since Obama has no Democrat rivals, there’s no real opportunity for a Democrat protest vote. The only way for Republicans and the unaffiliated middle-of-the-roader who voted for Obama in 2008 to show their opposition to Washington policies is the Republican primary. And who are they? They are the broad middle class who are unemployed or have family members, neighbors and friends who are losing their homes, their jobs and their hope for a better future while Washington lives it up on their dime.

They read stories on the Internet - stories their newspapers won’t print - about billions lost on “green energy” boondoggles while they pay $40 to $50 dollars for a tank of gas. They are losing their houses to foreclosure after Obama promised to fix that problem. They see trillion dollar deficits while their living standards erode and are demanding to know where the money’s going.

They are that virtual mob with pitchforks that are desperate to anoint someone as their leader who will help them storm the castle and evict the ogre holed up there. Mitt Romney doesn’t look like the kind of guy who is comfortable handling a pitchfork, but if he’s the last man standing after all the others fail, he’ll be appointed to that role.

In 2008 the people went to the polls before the full impact of the financial melt-down had sunk in. They voted for Mr. HopeN’Change because they thought Obama didn’t really mean it when he promised to fundamentally change America. They though that they were electing a President who would fix the problems and set the country back on its accustomed course. The Three Years of Obama taught them just how wrong they were. HopeN'Change is now replaced by Change it Back.  Obama is now viewed with fear and loathing. Those who did not like him now despise him and those who were on the fence are joining the opposition. Many see Obama as the ogre in the castle who has taken America hostage. The middle class is in danger of losing its grip on their part of the American Dream, and this time the mob with pitchforks is for real.  That is the real meaning of the Paul vote.

UPDATE:  Thanks Glenn, Ace, and others.


Ray said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. We the People are angry at the bailouts to the banks and now we can't get loans, the crony capitalism, the insider trading on bills they have influence over, exempting themselves from laws we have to follow (Obamacare). No wonder congress's approval is so low. It appears no one running (except for RP) will will take up the mantle and clean house. We are pissed. This sentiment is on both sides of the political spectrum. The Rubublican nominee would be wise (if it's not RP)to select Rand Paul as his running mate. He would be a more acceptable version of his dad, and would pull his followers enthusiasm the the Repubs

mark said...

>> while they pay $40 to $50 dollars for a tank of gas.

....... must be a small tank

barrydov said...

A Ron Paul third party run might draw lots of Michael Moore leftists angry at "Goldman Sachs", the Federal Reserve, and the "neocons".

To use more blunt language-- Paul would get the anti-Semite vote, which is far larger on the left than on the right. It would probably be a net gain for the Republicans.

Anonymous said...

The other part of the analysis about Paul is that I believe he will veto spending bill coming out of Congress which is desperately needed. I believe he will bring home the global military by executive order which is reason enough to vote for him.
He will encourage legislation to overturn Obama care.

Romney/Gingrich will not do these things. What is true is that Rino's need the Ron Paul and without it they fail(the reverse is true as well).

What we dont want is a Rino that is white Obama. Better to have a hung govt than another Obama term or a Rino replacement.

Anonymous said...

I guess the above comment on the anti-Semite vote" is tied to the earlier comment on the anti_Wall Street vote. The letter is accepyable, the former not. True there is a high percentage of Jews on Wall Street, they have been associated with finances since the middle ages. But it is not anti-semitism that's repulsing so many, it's what Palin best described as crony capitalism.

Anonymous said...

I hope you're right. I hope the country is not stupid enough to elect this useless SOB again. I was talking with someone about the 2012 election recently and another fellow overheard us and chimed in "Is there a choice?" meaning that he thought the GOP field was so inept that his thinking was he would vote Obama by default. This fellow is NOT an idiot in most things so I gotta wonder what he is thinking. I will vote for Obama's opponent even if he is an empty cardboard box.

george said...

Romney won't be able to govern from the right. Congress will have to fight him every step of the way. I fully expect him to make common cause with the Dems and squeal about how bipartisan he is.

The best we can hope for is gridlock so we had better concentrate on making gains in the House and Senate. The more Tea Party people we get in the safer we are.

I had the same idea about Rand Paul as the other commenter did. I would be fine with him as Vice President or even as a Supreme Court nominee if it would head off a third party run for Paul or bring his supporters over to our side.

lgude said...

As an American living a long way from the US in Australia, I find it hard to judge how much of this sentiment is really abroad. I certainly feel it. I really don't want Obama messing things up for another four years even if Romney is just another establishment candidate. (Did you notice the positive story in the NY Times about the brilliance of the young Romney at Harvard? How establishment is that?!) The size of the shellacking in 2010 is one measure of this feeling that Obama must be stopped. I agree it is stronger than is being recognized by the MSM but it is unclear just big an effect it will have in 2012. As I implied above Romney might benefit the least in some ways from this sentiment but in November people will face the moment of truth in the pooling booth. As we say in Australia, it may be that a drover's dog would have a good chance of beating Obama.

Anonymous said...

The real problem is that Romney doesn't understand all that. At this late date I have become convinced that he will never understand it -- that his brain doesn't have the cells necessary to process that data.

Romney, like McCain before him, still lives in the pre-Clinton, pre-Bork era, when "compromise" meant everybody got a little less than they wanted. As such he is ill equipped to face a Democratic Party which has adopted as its basic slogan "That's your problem right there. You trusted us."

Romney goes around making placating, conciliatory, collegial noises, imagining that he is reassuring the Great Middle that he isn't a bomb-thrower. What he is actually doing is reassuring everybody that the difference between a Romney administration and a second Obama one wouldn't be detectable without a gas chromatograph. "More of the same," he assures us, thinking it's comforting when in fact it's enraging.

The result will inevitably be that many people will simply stay home, or "forget" -- "Honey, the polls close in ten minutes, shouldn't we go?" -- "Bah, it's raining, and it doesn't matter anyway." In fact it does matter, but we aren't getting that from Mitt Romney, and won't.

I don't think Mitt Romney will ever be elected President. The only real hope we have is getting control of a Congress with the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the BS.


Anonymous said...

It's not just independents or protest voters who can't make up their minds. Conservative and Republican voters and bloggers an't seem to make up their minds from one week to the next.

Every week, it's a circular firing squad... Whoever the leader is this week, is next week's primary target for derision and scorn.

Moneyrunner said...

I like Rand Paul, at least that part of him that I have seen. I just wonder how much of his father’s foreign policy positions he shares. I would be shocked if he got the VP slot because of the way that his father has attacked the other candidates.

Moneyrunner said...

I understand that truck owners pay a lot more to fill up.

Moneyrunner said...

A third party run by Ron Paul will not get the Mike Moore vote; that one is already pledged to Obama. The Michael Moores of this world’s only complaint is that Obama hasn’t declared martial law, dissolved congress and confiscated all private wealth (but his).

Moneyrunner said...

Anonymous @10:43,
For some reason, Paul supporters think that St. Paul can do all the things that need doing all at once and all by himself. Paul bills himself as a big supporter of the original constitution, yet he and his supporters talk as if the constitutional separation of powers doesn’t exists. He can veto and vetoes can be over-ridden. The President may be the Commander In Chief but that doesn’t give him the power to do anything he wants with the military including sending them all home. A lot of the things that Paul wants to do need the approval of Congress and the American people. Let me break it to you gently, most people are not Libertarians, most support the military and a robust American global presence. Most want to fix programs like Social Security and Medicare so that they don’t impoverish us or future generations, not abolish them.

Have a nice day.

Moneyrunner said...

The “inept Republican field” is partially a product of the Liberal media which has been allowed to characterize the seven or eight (I forget how many are vying for the nomination) as kooks or worse. Once the nomination is settled, and I think that Romney will be the nominee, the theme is going away. Whatever you may want to say about Romney, (and he was not my heartthrob) he is perceived as serious and experienced. This election will be decided on whether Obama is disliked more than the Republican and that is not going to be a question after “Three Years of Obama.”

Moneyrunner said...

I think the Tea Party will be as successful in the 2012 election as they were in 2010, that is, very successful. I expect to see a Republican House and Senate as well as a Republican President. That will mean the end of Obamacare no matter what the Supreme Court decides. Romney will govern from the Right. He’s no Ronald Reagan – that is to say an ideological conservative – but he knows how to govern within the political framework in which he’s situated. And his framework will be Republican with a very strong Tea Party flavor. He’s not going to stray from the reservation; he will want a second term and remembers what happened to Bush the Elder.

Delayna said...

Once the nomination is settled, whichever Republican is nominated will be Attila the Hun's bastard love child with Hitler. Even Romney will be demonized. It happened in 2008, it will happen in 2012.

Moneyrunner said...

I agree that Romney is not a bomb thrower and that he’s trying to reassure voters that he’s not a radical. That’s good. He’s the safe haven for people who are terrified of second Obama term, one where the full radicalism of Obama can be unfurled. As I have said before, the new slogan is “Change it back.” For that you need someone who comes across as a father figure, someone like Romney who’s perceived as fixing the awful things that Obama has done and right the ship of state. “Back to normalcy” was also a previous winning presidential slogan.

Moneyrunner said...

I fully expect that demonization of Romney will take place. I don’t think it will work because he has worked very hard during the nominating process to stay cool, calm & collected. One other factor, in 2008 voters got more information about candidates from the internet than newspapers. That will be even truer in 2012 when the Internet will probably overtake network news. That means that the MSM’s ability to shape opinion in favor of Obama will be reduced.

Anonymous said...

I concur.

There are an awful lot of voters who will not check the box if it's Romney, and the Republican Establishment doesn't seem to care.

There is, and has been, much wrangling and opinion offered about Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and South Carolina; all occur well before Super Tuesday on March 6th.

It's quite remote, but possible, that a new face may enter the race by then, and there's always the possibility of a revolt at the Republican convention.

Anonymous said...

I saw a Paul townhall with Veterans in IA. Not pretty. Vituperative anti-war speech cheered by presumably Vietnam Vets against the War, Iraq Vets against the War, and others.

Code Pinkers could have given most of the speech straight up. Now I don't begrudge people's feelings about war...after all, no one wants war.

But the attitude of Paul and his left wing cohorts is from another place...America is an Imperial Power that props up dictators all over world, and then wonders why people hate us.

Why don't we just talk to other countries rather than kill them?

Paul is clearly supported by the left...but they will always vote their true love. Obama

Anonymous said...

He threatens the Ds and the Rs equally, and they are both so blinded by their hatred for each other and their lust for the big gun that they haven't figured this out yet. Ron Paul is not a candidate, he is the symbol of a movement.

David N. Narr said...

The Ron Paul vote "is in fact the Republican protest vote." And not only that, it's the vote of people across the spectrum who have been disgusted and repulsed by the operations of the economic, social, cultural and political ruling class for the past 25 years.

IMO, the Tea Party -- and Ron Paul as well -- have been disciplined enough to avoid the Third Party road to date. Remember Ross Perot's gift to us. I wouldn't put it past the Democrats and their allies in the media to try to find a Ron Paul surrogate/issue to siphon off enough votes to allow Obama to squeak through to another victory.

Far fetched, perhaps, but in the event that the Republicans win, then give us more of the same, then the Republican Party will suffer the consequences, moreso than Democrats.

josephmcnulty said...

"The Controllers," whoever they may be, are cynically using Paul as a roadblock on Gingrich and Santorum, knowing that Paul is unacceptable. They have had the newsletter issue in the drawer for months. They have known that it is there to be used (1) if Paul became "candidate of the month," or (2) need never be used if not. The mere serious accusation of "racism" is fatal in most cases, and Paul's half-hearted denials have been insufficient. The problem is not that this denies Paul the black vote; the problem is that mainstream whites, the ones who are needed to move Paul from 8% to 28%. will not associate themselfes knowingly with a "racist," even one only "plausibly accused." Therefore, Paul was always a fatally flawed candidate even to those open to the argument that the United States should not be the "policeman of the world" (as if it ever was). It was just a question of when "The Controllers" were ready to drop the hammer. Who has done this? Every Republican candidate beginning with Michelle Bachmann, has flowered and then been destroyed, except Paul and Santorum (who has not until now shown potential as a candidate who might challenge Romney). So now Paul is being used to block Santorum, with the accusation against Paul put on the table so that he can be declared "unacceptable" and Romney declared the "winner" with a second-place finish -- still with the same 25% of the vote that he always had. Qui bono? Look for the hidden hand of Axelrod.

Allan Ripley said...

Ron Paul is not just a symbol- he is a man. When elected he would actually do something to reduce the size of government: it would be in his power to do something as small as closing an executive department or two. Think of it- an actual demonstration that government control over the lives of citizens could be clearly reduced. Think what that idea could mean to us all: if a couple of cabinet posts could be abolished, what else could be done? This possibility, more than anything else, is the source of the knickers-wetting going on in both parties. Foreign policy, newletters, racism, blah, blah- all are straw men. It's the literally smaller government that is in the R&D minds.

Anonymous said...

Kinbot, I find your assessment of Paul supporters questionable. Neo-cons would never support an isolationist or reported anti-Semite like Paul. Neo-conservatism usually embraces a strong defense of Isreal. Neo-cons would be fine with any of the candidates besides Paul/Johnson. Commentors like George Will, Charles Krauthammer, and Bill Kristol exemplify neo-conservative thinking.

Anonymous said...

In 2008 the people went to the polls before the full impact of the financial melt-down had sunk in. They voted for Mr. HopeN’Change because they thought Obama didn’t really mean it when he promised to fundamentally change America. They though that they were electing a President who would fix the problems and set the country back on its accustomed course.

Hey Moneyrunner. First time reader here (via Instapundit).

A couple of my observations here.

1- I disagree with the above. I think plenty of people voted for Obama because they truly believed he would change the way politics work, and they have become disillusioned by the fact that nothing has changed. We are still fighting red v blue (and it seems to have become worse) and politics is still as corrupt as ever.

2- Much of Ron Paul's support is because independents (and to a certain extent democrats) have become disillusioned with Obama. If you don't believe me check out liberal communities such as They were Obama supporters and they clearly favor Ron Paul.

Moneyrunner said...

Anonymous @ 11:37 AM:

Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure what you (or anyone else) mean when they say that they expected Obama to change the way politics works. Perhaps you can explain what changes you were anticipating. Politics is a reflection of man’s nature. Some “leaders” in the not too distant past tried to fundamentally change the way that politics works by changing man’s nature. You may have heard of them: Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot.

To say that nothing has changed is not even close to being correct. Obama’s administration is spending money at an unprecedented rate and racking up debt at an unprecedented rate; a rate that is literally unsustainable. A billion dollars is now a rounding error in the federal financial system.
Obama asked for and Congress passed a law that fundamentally nationalizes the nation’s health care system in ways that most people don’t like. Obama effectively nationalized GM and gave large parts of it to his allies in the UAW. The Justice Department has managed to pit black against white in ways that would have been shameful in the Jim Crow era and sponsored a gun running operation that has left hundreds of Mexican and at least one American law enforcement officer dead while the Attorney General declares that his critics are racists. Hundreds of millions (destined to grow to billions) of dollars have gone to failed “green power” projects headed by Obama cronies while the price of gas, the fuel that really powers the country, has risen to $3-4 dollars a gallon. Let’s not even talk about that “smart diplomacy” that has made the world more dangerous and America’s stature a mockery.

Most people would feel better if, as you say, “nothing has changed.” In fact, Obama promised to fundamentally change America; he has and it’s scaring the hell out of people. If Leftists like Ron Paul, perhaps they see a kindred spirit; one who believes that America is the world’s problem. In that respect, Obama and Paul see eye to eye.

Mr. Enns said...

You don't really want a president to be pitchfork-wielder-in-chief. The radical fire-breathers belong in the house and the senate. Let the president triangulate between the will of the people, the forces of congress and his own ideas.

Get those fire-breathers into congress!