Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Delegates and the Ron Paul Strategy

You're going to hear a lot about Ron Paul's nifty plans to snag delegates by out-organizing the other campaigns. See for example this article about how Paul's people were trained to stick around after the straw poll vote portion of the caucuses in order to secure as many next-stage delegates as possible (in the Iowa multistage caucus process).

It's very unlikely to matter.

Here's the deal. Ron Paul is, of course, not going to be the Republican nominee; in fact, he's not going to come remotely close. His faction is going to struggle to stay over 15% of the vote in most states, and under Republican rules that's not going to translate into all that many delegates. Other than the very, very unlikely event that Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum battle to a delegate tie similar to last night's Iowa caucuses tie, it's not really going to matter very much to the nomination whether Paul gets 5%, or 10%, or even 20% of the delegates (and, really, gaming out all the obscure rules isn't going to get him a total delegate share larger than his overall vote share, so it's not going to be 20%).

Nor will it matter very much at the convention whether Paul leads an army of delegates or just a handful for reasons beyond the nomination. On the issues where Paul varies wildly from the rest of the GOP -- foreign policy, civil liberties, and a few others -- he's not going to win. For the rest, the real leverage that Paul has isn't the number of delegates who will listen to him; it's the vote in November. Whether Romney (or Santorum) will buy the threat that he jumps third party or just tells them to stay home isn't going to have anything at all to do with whether Paul has a couple hundred or a couple dozen delegates at the convention.

The truth is that even though delegate counts are what formally determine the nominee, very few nomination battles have come down to delegate counts. So, yes, it makes sense to maximize whatever you can maximize (and don't think that the Romney campaign is going to just allow the Paul people to grab delegates uncontested, by the way). But it just isn't very likely to make much of a difference.

7 comments:

  1. Wouldn't Paul delegates possibly translate to some influence over the party platform, or at least present a case (threat) that Paul should get a decent speaking spot at the convention? After getting shut-out last cycle to the point where he held his own shadow convention, it at least seems plausible that Paul would want to feel he's making some progress in the party.

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  2. All Ron Paul will want is a speaking slot and for his delegates to be treated respectfully.

    Paul is running to prove that the libertarian message can get votes and enjoy enthusiastic support. He's also using his campaign as a way to train his supporters for future political battles.

    Most of all, he sees this as a contest of ideas that will eventually change the ideological landscape of the GOP.

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  3. Sheesh, this post has been up 6+ hours already, & you haven't been hit by the Paulista trolls who normally infest every blog I see, & who take great unmbrage at anything even remotely negative about Paul?

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  4. "Sheesh, this post has been up 6+ hours already, & you haven't been hit by the Paulista trolls who normally infest every blog I see, & who take great unmbrage at anything even remotely negative about Paul?"

    Thought the same thing.

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  5. It's because this blog is irrelevant. Just an opinion and doesn't stop the movement any. Just sayin'.

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  6. Delegate counts don't really matter in the sense that the frontrunners always end up with a majority of delegates anyway, but I'll say this-- they matter more than the reported "results" of the Iowa caucuses, which were nothing more than a straw poll with the delegates chosen later.

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  7. It is important to get the paleoconservative message out there for a future run by Rand Paul. The ideas of big government/progressive neo-cons are too similar to the left. Whether or not Ron gets enough votes to win will not be as important as pulling the Republican Party back to its more traditional roots.

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