Friday, 13 January 2012

Ron Paul's Results from Iowa and N.H.: the Rest of the Story

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Ron PaulThe exit polls following the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary showed something remarkable that somehow missed the evening news: Paul consistently won the votes of the young, the disaffected, the independent, as well as discouraged Democrats. CNN’s exit polls in New Hampshire showed Paul winning almost half the voters aged 18-29 (compared to Romney’s 26 percent), and splitting the vote with Romney in the 30-to-39 age bracket. Paul also won 35 percent of unmarried voters, 40 percent of those who had never voted in a primary before, one-third of the independent vote, and nearly half of those with no religious affiliation. He also took a third of those who characterized themselves as “somewhat liberal” in their outlook.

These results were startlingly similar to the results of exit polls taken following the Iowa caucuses: Paul won the majority of voters under age 40. By age bracket, Paul won 50 percent of caucus-goers aged 17-24, 45 percent of those between age 25 and 29, and a third of those in the 30-to-39 age bracket. 

Paul’s press secretary, Gary Howard, tried to explain this phenomenon: “Congressman Paul has a strong and consistent message that resonates with a wide range of people, but young people in particular appreciate his honesty and his character. They realize the mess that the establishment status quo politicians have put us in, and recognize that Ron Paul is the only candidate seriously challenging the status quo.”

What exactly is that “strong and consistent message?” Maureen Mackey, writing for the Fiscal Times, suggested that if Paul were elected president, “You could probably smoke in public places, drive gas-guzzling cars, keep your shoes on at airport security, and pray in public schools.” But it might also be for his position on other substantive issues. For instance:

• He signed a pro-life pledge from Personhood USA, a non-profit Christian ministry that seeks to ban abortion.

• He wants to balance the budget by slashing $1 trillion his first year in office by shuttering agencies such as the Departments of Education, Interior and Energy.

• He wants to audit the Federal Reserve which would lead inevitably to its termination.

• He wants to end the Department of Agriculture’s supplemental nutrition program for women and children.

• He wants to bring home all the troops (and so-called non-military contractors) from Afghanistan and Iraq.

• He wants to legalize marijuana.

He has taken consistent if not popular positions on such issues as the Iraq War Resolution in 2002 which he, as the lone Republican, voted against. He has opposed such boondoggles as the M-1 tank: “Billions of dollars have been spent on the M-1 tank over the years and yet there has never been a need for it — it was purely a military-industrial complex boondoggle to serve [their] interests,” he declared.

He says that if “taxes are the price we pay for civilization, [then] we are doomed,” and has consistently and publicly repeated his stand to eliminate the income tax altogether. He doesn’t like union thuggery and their excessive influence in Washington: “Union power, gained by legislation, even without physical violence, is still violence.”

His strongest stand which appears to resonate most powerfully with his young constituency is on freedom of the individual: “Government should not compel or prohibit any personal activity when that activity poses danger to that individual alone.”

What’s remarkable is how a 76-year-old man, at least two generations removed from his primary supporters, continues to gain pluralities and often majorities from them. It is the message of freedom that’s getting across.

Photo: AP Images

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