In many ways, it seemed like Ron Paul began his 2008 Iowa caucus campaign on a dare. After being shunned by the Iowa Christian Alliance and Iowans for Tax Relief’s presidential forum, Paul basically crashed the party and his “revolution” began to take root in Iowa.
Paul finished fifth in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, but only a few thousand votes behind John McCain and Fred Thompson. Had Paul been better organized and focused on building a grassroots caucus mechanism sooner, it’s likely that he could have finished in the top three, which would have been a huge boost for his campaign.
Over the past few years, Paul has traveled back to Iowa for Campaign for Liberty events and to support Iowa legislative candidates. In each instance, he has been welcomed by large crowds, which seems to indicate that his support has grown or at least intensified following the 2008 caucuses.
If any candidate in the caucuses will be able to tap into the tea party movement in Iowa, it’s Ron Paul. Paul’s libertarian views give him a solid base of support in the state, and he doesn’t have to start from scratch like he did in 2008. Ron Paul + tea party = trouble for traditional candidates in the caucuses. Plus, instead of his supporters spending countless hours tying to make sure he is allowed in the debates, they can instead focus on getting him elected.
The problem for Paul is that he’s going to have to compete for those tea party votes in 2012 since there will be a number of candidates trying to attract that particular group of voters. The tea party vote might be the most fractured part of the electorate in the 2012 caucuses with candidates like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum all reaching out to them.
While Paul will have to campaign hard to win a majority of the tea party activists in the state, it’s safe to say that nobody will have a more loyal and dedicated group of supporters than Ron Paul will have. In a caucus state, that kind of support is worth its weight in gold.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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