Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paul aides: Why won't our kooky candidacy catch on?

Politico reports that aides to Rep. Ron Paul are frustrated that his candidacy isn't generating more votes. Seriously.
Ron Paul’s top strategists are confused and frustrated that the wild enthusiasm they see at their campaign rallies and events is not translating into votes.

Thousands turned out to see the Texas congressman at events in Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota in the days before Super Tuesday. Paul said publicly and believed privately that he could win all three states outright. When the votes were counted, though, he finished third in Alaska and Idaho and second in North Dakota.

Paul may still emerge with a big chunk of delegates in the GOP nominating race, but the candidate’s much-hyped focus on caucus states has yet to yield an outright victory in any state.

This gap between dreams and reality came to a head during a Wednesday morning conference call for senior staff when the discussion turned to why the campaign keeps underperforming its own forecasts.
Excuse me gentlemen, but perhaps the demographic and political experts at AppliedRationality can be of some assistance--and for free no less.

The first and simple answer is that while the United States has many kooks in an absolute sense and may be rightly claimed a nation of kooks, kooks do not make up a sufficient proportion of the population to constitute an electoral majority. Pinning your hopes on Republican contests in Idaho and Alaska was smart "kooky" demographics, but even there, my friends, kooks don't quite reach a majority.

Second, the appeals of your candidate, while intellectually consistent, have all the intellectual heft of, well, a pet rock. This makes it exceedingly difficult to get even a single vote from anyone--even Herman Cain or Rick Perry supporters--from outside your core demographic.

And third, speaking of that demographic, kooks are easily distracted. Yelling "Fed conspiracy" or "gold standard" certainly gets their attention as you see at your candidate's rallies, but so does yelling "squirrel." This unhelpful quality, while charming and amusing in some respects, produces bad electoral juju.

So aides to Ron Paul, bask in the warm, though somewhat confusing, glow of your candidate's kookiness. But, like the similar feeling that you would get in a toddler's pool, recognize that warmth for what it is and what it's worth.

Yours kindly,
AR (um, AppliedRationality, not Ayn Rand)