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Political Analysis: Explaining the Ron Paul Phenomenon

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Stunning grass-roots support and amazing fund raising have most people surprised by Ron Paul’s performance, despite his single digit poll numbers. What can explain the ‘Ron Paul Revolution’?

Ron Paul (R-TX)

Ron Paul is a 10-term Republican Congressman from Texas who is running for President at a time when Republican’s aren’t very popular and a member of the House of Representative hasn’t won a party nomination, let alone a general election, in over 100 years. In fact, Rep. Paul isn’t very popular among members of his own party. But despite everything that is against him, Paul has turned his insurgent candidacy into a fully fledged phenomenon that is sweeping the country.

In the beginning, passersby may have noticed “Ron Paul” spam in their MySpace accounts, or “Ron Paul Revolution” signs displayed in very unusual and conspicuous places around town. The politically savvy may even have watch him stumble and teeter in the first Republican debates, where he took on Giuliani and received harsh criticism from fellow Republicans as well as the media.

Today, the Ron Paul Revolution is in full steam. The campaign shocked the political world when it announced that it had raised over $5 million in campaign contributions in the third quarter; more that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and nearly as much as Arizona Senator John McCain.

Jaws dropped even further with last week’s announcement that Paul’s campaign raised an astonishing $4.2 million in just a single day, consisting of mostly small donations from 36,000 supports, mostly made over the Internet.

There seems to be no stopping the trend either. The following week the campaign took in an addition $1 million from 12,000 donors, half of which were new contributors. This leaves Paul very close to his fourth quarter goal of $12 million. An estimated $8.2 million has already been raised.

Despite shattering single-day fund raising records, Paul’s movement hasn’t translated into measurable support, at least not yet. The most recent Quinnipiac University poll has Paul polling at 1%, behind fell members of the US House of Representatives, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo. Paul isn’t fairing must better in early states either; a New Hampshire Institute of Politics/Saint Anselm College poll showed him at just 7% in the Granite State.

Who is Ron Paul’s “base”?

Ron Paul’s supporters aren’t typical Republicans, or even typical voters for that matter. They’re young, disenfranchised, oftentimes extremist, and ultra-activist – or new to politics – and they are reminiscent of Howard Dean’s failed 2004 presidential bid.

In some cases Paul supporters have proven to be anti-establishment to the point that they believe that the Bush administration plotted and executed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. These kinds of supporters are the loud voice of a small minority.

Why does Paul win so many TV and online polls, but not scientific polls?

This is where the “ultra-activist” factor comes into play. Like Howard Dean before him, Paul’s campaign managers have managed to tap into the Internet culture. Online and real life social groups organize to “stuff” electronic ballot boxes as a strong sign of support for their man.

Another presidential hopeful with virtually no chance at getting elected is Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich’s supporters, like Paul’s, often mobilize to ensure that online and TV votes are won by their candidate and no other. The Ohio Congressman consistently places ahead of Hillary Clinton in most online polls.

What attracts people to Paul’s campaign?

There are several factors that lead both regular voters and extremists to rally behind Paul.

1.      They have never heard his message before.

It’s important to keep in mind that Paul isn’t a true Republican. He is, in fact, the only true Libertarian who shares the stage with the Republican presidential candidates at every debate. Every year the Libertarian Party nominates a national candidate and every year that person goes unnoticed, including Ron Paul’s 1988 presidential run.  In a two party system where third parties can never break out, many voters are, for the first time, being exposed to Libertarian views, beliefs and polices

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Founder of "The Rev. Rob Times," (www.revrob.com) Rev. Robert A. Vinciguerra has been a longtime student of journalism. From Phoenix, Arizona.

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Druggies, thugs, dissidents, and the disenfranchis... by Mike Folkerth on Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 10:22:10 AM
Ron Paul is the only true Republican running for P... by dutchman on Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 11:11:12 AM
I'm a fifty-one year old professional who does... by brisa on Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 2:11:30 PM
"It is increasingly popular and fashionable f... by Better World Order on Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 2:48:17 PM
The media has made it their job to discount a... by Pat on Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 3:13:01 PM
Newspapers and TV shows have been buzzing with rep... by bob jones on Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 6:18:35 PM
Rev. Robert Vinciguerra is obviously biased in his... by Mark Bennett on Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 9:44:44 PM
Gee, these "people in the know" with the... by Mr M on Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 11:16:18 PM
"In some cases Paul supporters have proven to... by Esbe on Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 1:02:22 AM
The complete and total failure of the Democrats as... by Ed Encho on Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 5:02:16 AM
The official story is BS and these other candidate... by Sleeper on Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 7:56:51 AM
"Ron Paul’s supporters aren’t typ... by Richard Taylor on Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 11:47:54 AM
They do want the government out of our lives, but ... by Sleeper on Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 4:12:05 PM
Vinciguerra says Paul is a "true Libertarian... by Jim Arnold on Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 12:32:13 PM
Or atleast serve it with toast and eggs.... by chariotdrvr14 on Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 3:33:42 PM
I'm very disappointed in Shawn Hannity for decryin... by Mike Folkerth on Thursday, Nov 22, 2007 at 10:46:16 AM