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Measuring the Impact of a Ron Paul Third Party Bid

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The other day I found myself arguing with a right-winger about whether a third-party candidacy by Ron Paul would hurt the Democratic candidate more than the Republican candidate in the 2008 presidential election. I maintain that a Paul candidacy would draw more support from the Republicans than from the Democrats, and I base that belief on an examination of Paul's core beliefs on the important issues of the day. These beliefs align him more closely with the typical Republican voter than Democrat. I'll address them one-by-one:

Taxes - Paul consistently favors lower tax rates.

It's long been established conventional wisdom that Republicans are more anti-tax than Democrats. On this issue, Paul appears more to Republican voters than Democratic voters.

Free Trade - Paul has long been a vocal critic of free trade agreements like NAFTA, WTO, GATT, and NAFTA.

I rate this issue as close to a toss-up because there are strong currents within both parties against free trade. Paul's position here might appeal slightly more to Democrats than Republicans but not by a wide margin.

Iraq - Paul has been a vehement critic of the Iraq War.

No question that he appeals more to Democrats with this stance but there is also a small minority of Republican voters who are strongly opposed to the Iraq War. These people represent the much-repressed "Buchanan wing" of the Republican Party that is vehemently opposed to nationbuilding and a neoconservative interventionist foreign policy.

Foreign Policy - Paul advocates an isolationist foreign policy.

You can say a lot of things about the Democrats, but they certainly are not isolationist. Whether it's the United Nations, the IMF, or any number of international organizations the Democrats always seem to be the strongest supporters of our involvement in these areas. A Democratic president supported interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti using our military forces. Traditionally, Republicans have been more leery of nationbuilding with our troops but that logic was upended with Iraq. On this issue, Paul appeals more to the "black helicopter" crowd of the loony right than to liberal voters in my opinion.

Abortion- Paul is strongly pro-life.

No debate here. Paul's stance will appeal more to Republicans on this issue.

Gun Control- Paul strongly supports 2nd amendment rights.

Once again, no debate. Paul's support of gun ownership definitely appeals more to Republicans than Democrats.

Border and Immigration - Paul supports closing the borders and curbing legal immigration.

Paul's positions here no doubt appeal more to Republicans, in particular the "Tancredo" lunatic fringe.

Privacy and Personal Liberty - Paul strongly opposes expanding government surveillance and authority; supports overturning Patriot Act.

In the past, Republicans were always more reluctant to allow government to expand its surveillance authority but that logic has been reversed since 9/11. It's now the Democrats who are in the forefront of protecting us against Big Brother. So on this issue, Paul appeals more to Democratic voters than Republican.

Health Care - Paul strongly opposes expanding government programs; favors curbing FDA powers.

On this issue, Paul definitely appeals more to Republicans who are opposed to expand social programs that benefit those in need of medical care.

In summary, on the 9 issues covered, Paul's position is more in line with Republicans on 6 of the issues, with the Democrats on 2 of the issues, and on one issue it's a toss-up. To me, this means a Paul candidacy would have to draw more from the Republican presidential candidate than the Democrat.

A possible wild card here is the issue of Iraq. If the war is much worse than it is right now next year then Paul might be able to capture more of the anti-war vote. However, I think that's unlikely given the success the Sunnis are having in alliance with ourselves in wiping out the al Qaeda threat. By next year, Iraq is likely to be in a holding pattern with communal violence still taking hundreds of lives every month, but with the sectarian cleansing program in full swing successfully separating the warring parties and paving the way for partition. The war is likely to be less of an issue next year and I just don't see rabid anti-war leftists voting for an anti-abortion, anti-immigration zealot who wants to radically shrink the size of government.

Bottom line: a third-party bid by Ron Paul, which I believe is a near-certainty given the amount of money he is raising, is bad news for the Republicans.

Ron Paul's campaign website


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Comments (1)

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Paul definitely pulls from the liberterian sector of Republican voters, and a Santorum (or evangelical hero to be named at a later date) additional 3rd party bid will pull from the Christian right sector.

The GOP definitely is a party that needs to break apart so it can reinvent itself and come back together "reformed," and that's what appears to be in the offing. Well, they'll have eight years to do it. I don't think they'll be finished quarreling by 2012 - too much inherent stubbornness.

In the '08 election my guess is that the disillusioned far left, as much as they may dislike Hillary's centrist-tendencies, will hold their nose and vote for her in the general election. The disenfranchised among the right will just stay home and pout, or lodge protest votes for the third party hero of the week.

Looks like Plan A is working...


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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