There is a man who's working on Obama's campaign right now -- just as he did in 2007 and '08 -- who will be voting for Ron Paul in the general election if he's on the ballot. I know because we have a mutual friend who told me about a conversation she had with him.
That's one hell of a political cross-over.
And there's plenty more where that came from.
This week, pundits have been abuzz with the fact that the latest poll in Iowa puts Paul, Romney, Cain and Gingrich in a statistical dead heat to win the GOP primary in a couple of months.
Now, I'm like most of Ron Paul's supporters in supporting him for mostly philosophical reasons to do with liberty, the Constitution, and peace. My articles have reflected that, but now that our candidate is tying for first place in one of the most important primaries in the country, political arithmetic becomes as important as principles. Partisan Republicans -- who care a lot about a Republican victory but don't much care for Ron Paul -- tend to be moved more by political arithmetic and strategy than, say, peace and liberty, but since these partisans have significant power to affect electoral outcomes, the arithmetic that is important to them must be important to us.
First, the old (non-Blue) Republican base is shrinking: the number of registered Republicans has been decreasing. The one candidate who is reversing this trend and has shown himself to be able to open the door to the hearts and minds of a significant chunk of the majority of the country that comprises Independents plus Democrats -- is Ron Paul. Indeed, the fact that no other Republican candidate has such cross-over appeal -- let alone an entire movement (so significant that it has a name that is being used in the mainstream media) of people who are burying the political habits of a lifetime to vote for him -- indicates that the overwhelming majority of newly registering Republicans are for Ron Paul.
If I were a partisan hack, why would I want to fight an election with a shrinking minority of the nation when I could be doing it with a man who can appeal to the majority?
Second, the fastest growing self-identified group of voters in the USA is Independents -- a group which prefers Ron Paul over all other candidates. Paul currently leads Obama by 9% among Independents. Since Independents are more than a third of the nation, that's a 3% margin in the presidential election.
Third, partisan Republicans should also be aware of a poll by Rasmussen, conducted a few months ago, in which likely Republican voters were asked whether they would vote for the Republican nominee for president if that nominee were not their preferred nominee (whom they'd vote for in the primaries/caucuses). About 90% of Republicans who supported candidates other than Ron Paul said they would support the Republican nominee, whoever he was, whereas only about half of Ron Paul's supporters said they would do so. And that half is going to decline as more Republicans register specifically for Ron Paul with no love for the Republican party.
Even if Ron Paul were to get only 6% of the electorate as die-hard supporters, and assuming Rasmussen's figures are right, then if the Republicans select anyone other than Paul to run against Obama, they lose 3% of the vote (half of 6%) right off the bat.
On top of all that, I'm hearing more of Democrats who will not become Blue Republicans to help Paul win the GOP nomination and will vote for Obama if he runs against anyone except for Ron Paul; if Dr. Paul runs, however, they have already decided to vote for him instead. Let's just posit a tiny 1% swing right there -- that's a 2% change in the margin of votes.
Taking a bit of a mathematical liberty (since these numbers are not strictly additive), adding the 3% to the 3% to the 2% gets us to an 8% preference for Ron Paul over other GOP candidates against Obama before we even start. This percentage not only exceeds the margin by which Obama won in '08, but would have been enough to change the outcome of every presidential election since Reagan.
In other words, ceteris paribus, a Ron Paul candidacy overwhelmingly brings in the Independents, brings over a significant percentage of Democrats who would otherwise be voting Obama (rather than staying home) and still appeals to clear Constitutional conservatives in the Republican base. The Republicans simply have no other viable candidate who satisfies one of those conditions -- let alone all three.
It's also worth mentioning that Ron Paul's poll numbers are like a ratchet. They only go one way: converts to Paul's Constitutional classical liberalism (look it up) almost never change their minds. Dr. No is sticky. No other candidate has that going for him, either.
The only reasonable counter-argument seems to be that the neo-con Republican base has a problem with Paul's foreign policy. Frankly, that would be easy to take care of in the presidential campaign. Paul gets more support from veterans and active military personnel than does either Obama or all the other Republican candidates put together. The GOP needs only explain to the nation why, remind us all that Paul is himself a veteran, remind themselves that Paul's Constitutional foreign policy is more in line with Republican tradition (and more conservative) than anything we've seen for a few decades, and let Paul's predictions about expanded government and the economic crash play on continuous loop to cover everything else.
But why even bother with these mental games, since if Ron Paul does not to win the GOP nomination, none of it matters?
They are worth playing because the Ron Paul campaign is currently gaining ground in spite of the party and in spite of the media. If I can do this math, then so can the party chairman, party operatives, other Republican candidates who'd like to be in the winning party in 2012, and the campaign consultants who will help them achieve that. None of those people even have to be excited about the philosophy of Ron Paul to pick a winner when they think they've seen one.
The partisan operatives might not much like the implications of the Obama campaigner who will vote for Ron Paul, the rise of the Blue Republican movement, or even the latest Iowa polls, but at the end of the day, for no other reason than winning is better than losing, they might well accept them. When they do, and the establishment resistance begins to melt, we will have reached our tipping point.
At this rate, that point may not too far away.
But here is the critical strategic lesson for the "Ron Paul nation." If they want to make things tip in their favor sooner rather than later, they need to decide now -- and let it be widely known -- that they will vote for Ron Paul whether or not he is on the ballot (by writing him in if necessary), and not for the Republican, whoever else he may be.
If they do that, they will make the math work for them, and multiply the impact of their efforts to date in a way that will guarantee that the political landscape becomes changed for good -- in both senses of that phrase.