The Ron Paul money bomb is amazing. On a certain level though, it makes a lot of sense.  I’m about to make a totally obvious point:

Ron Paul’s support is a protest vote.

There are a lot of Republicans right now who are really angry. Republicans are furious with their party.  In 2004, Dems were furious with theirs. A lot of them still are, but they are still in shell-shock after winning the 2006 elections. They don’t realize how much of a bill of goods they were sold. And beating Republicans is still important to them.

Here’s a hypothesis, but a difficult one to test. To some extent, Ron Paul supporters support him because he is a variety of the "Republican wing of the Republican Party". People who hate the war can support Ron Paul. People who hate the spending can support Ron Paul. Those are the primary places where the GOP is losing its base right now. And the part of the base that is leaving right now are the ones who are rich and online. Just like some of the Deaniacs. And the college kids look the same too.

They don’t give the money because they really like Paul. They are just more angry at the party than they know what to do with. In the end, they may be "dated Dean, married Kerry" sorts. They may vote for Paul. They may just force the party to pay attention to them.

And some of them are just racist, bigoted, neanderthals.

But there’s something legit here. And today, the Paul guys got our attention. Good for them.


lgallowa · November 6, 2007 at 2:57 AM

Dear Dayton,

I am a political science major at the University of Southern California who has just started a political blog of my own and I wanted to say I really enjoyed reading your blog. Your theory about Ron Paul is very interesting and I think in some ways you are spot on. Some people who gave donations to Ron Paul today were probably protesting other Republican candidates.

I only partially agree when you say, “To some extent, Ron Paul supporters support him because he is a variety of the ‘Republican wing of the Republican Party’. People who hate the war can support Ron Paul. People who hate the spending can support Ron Paul. Those are the primary places where the GOP is losing its base right now.” Implicit in your statement is that there exist a “Liberal Democrat wing of the Republican Party” and a “Libertarian wing of the Republican Party.” I think the liberal wing of the Republican Party is relegated to New England, if it even really existed after Nelson Rockefeller. And Ron Paul is very much in the libertarian mold. There are going to be candidates that appeal to niches of political voters, some of them might have deep pockets, and Ron Paul has tapped into the “smaller, less intrusive government” enthusiasts. However, fiscally, he has some “extreme” ideas (switching back to a gold standard, abolishing the income tax, and eliminating the Federal Reserve), but most of his ideas are not too different from the other candidates; or at least not worthy enough for Republican voters to switch votes from another winnable Republican candidate. Paul differs from the mainstream Republicans in the key issue of the Iraq War. Most Republicans are mildly supportive of the war and favor the responsible clean up and security of Iraq; they are strongly opposed to anything that appears to be a “cut and run” policy. That is where Ron Paul loses the Republican nomination. Just a few months ago, he spoke at my college campus and repeatedly preached “leaving Iraq just as fast as we got into Iraq”. On this college campus, that only politely received. I would say Ron Paul is, at best, a novelty to the Republican base, and the recent online fundraising successes will probably be his biggest highlight as a presidential candidate.


eye · November 6, 2007 at 9:59 AM


I am invoking the Howard Dean language of 2004. The people he was speaking to were the guys going around saying “where the hell did my party go?”


Volunteer Voters » Ron Paul Revolution Is About Anger · November 6, 2007 at 9:28 AM

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Remembering the Fifth of November as a Victory for Ron Paul, But Not Necessarily Pro-Freedom Beliefs - Liberal Values - Defending Liberty and Enlightened Thought · November 6, 2007 at 3:54 PM

[…] While some Republicans may not be pleased, there is certainly value to Ron Paul having the ability to remain in the race and challenge the party’s positions on Iraq and civil liberties. This fund raiser does not change the fact that Paul has virtually no chance to win either the nomination or the election, but it does enable him to engage in a far more effective protest campaign. While Paul has many negatives, including many non-libertarian ideas, these are barely a problem in the Republican race where the other candidates share many of these views. […]

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In Paul We Trust » The American Mind · November 17, 2007 at 3:33 PM

[…] Let me state this caveat: not all Rep. Ron Paul supporters are freaks. Most are normal people who live next to you, who go to the same supermarkets with you, and who send their children to the same schools. I’m leaning towards Soren Dayton’s belief that the Paul phenomenon is a protest vote. It’s a reaction to failures of Republicans to reduce the size and scope of government. It’s sort of like Pat Buchanan opposing President George H.W. Bush in 1992. […]

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