A recent CNN Poll, showing Ron Paul as the top Republican Contender to President Obama, has been boosting excitement amongst Paul’s supporters this last week. However, this trend actually started back in early 2010 when a Rasmussen Poll put Obama and Paul at a statistic dead-heat for the 2012 General Election.
So, Why Does Ron Paul Have the Best Chance to Defeat President Obama?
|Pollster||Date||Obama (D)||Paul (R)||Rank in Poll*|
*Based on Point Difference Out of the Republican Candidates Polled Against President Obama
It is important to keep in mind that Polls usually have a wide margin of error, and do not reflect future realities. These numbers could go in either direction once Ron Paul gains the Republican Nomination. However, by looking at these polls, we can see that Ron Paul has the best chance of beating Obama out of any other Republican Candidate if the Election was held today.
Favorable vs. Unfavorable Opinions
Out of the 6 Candidates Polled in the PPP Poll potential candidates Trump, Palin, and Gingrich all carry a 50+% Unfavorable view amongst registered voters. That means that the majority of voters are unlikely to vote for them. These candidates may do well amongst Republicans, but their unfavorable rating amongst the general public may make it difficult for them to win the General Election. While Paul’s unfavorable rating is near that of Romney, those that are undecided on Paul make 31% of those that are polled, showing that Paul’s recognition amongst voters is one of his biggest obstacles.
Out of the Republican Candidates Polled in the PPP Poll, Huckabee and Paul draw the most support from voters 18-29. Likewise, Rep. Paul continues to receive large crowds of enthusiastic students whenever he speaks on Campuses throughout the country.
Even back in 2008, a MySpace Primary Poll showed both Obama and Paul winning their respective contests. The article refers to a similar Facebook Poll that showed similar results.
Strong With Christians
Again, showing that Paul’s low recognition (and the high percentage of “unsure” voters) is one of the candidates biggest hurdles, this Barma study shows that amongst Christian voters, Paul comes in right behind the major front-runners (Palin, Gingrich, Romney and Huckabee), and amongst Independent Christian Voters, comes in second behind former Gov. Romney.
Paul has the ability to maintain the Republican Parties’ Christian Base, and open his Campaign to other Religions, for example, Rep. Paul was a strong supporter of the “Ground Zero Mosque” be given the same Rights and Liberties as would a Christian Religious Center.
Taking a more reasonable approach to social conservatism, by promoting Liberty and the Bill of Rights to secure freedoms such as expression of religion and individual equality under the law, Paul can maintain both religious conservatives while opening the door to pro-gay marriage, anti-drug war and other social issues that may seem “progressive” or “liberal.”
@ 10:15 Paul related Religious Freedom to the War on Drugs
New Voters, Independents and Democrats
Mostly backed by anecdotal evidence, my personal observations and reading have shown that a decent amount of Ron Paul’s support in 2008 came from people who had never voted until hearing Ron Paul’s message. This is very similar to President Obama’s support, which brought in many who had previous been disenfranchised by American Politics. Likewise, as I personally was a Registered Democrat from 2004, many people switched Party Registration in order to support Rep. Paul in the 2008 Republican Primary. This trend would be even more significant in a General Election, where Independents, Democrats, Libertarians and even Greens may give their Vote to Ron Paul; especially when it does not require changing Political Affiliation.
President Obama won an election on rhetoric promoting withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, an end to Government Secrecy, Sensible Drug Laws, and a reign in on Corporate Welfare. The last two years have proved this to be just that, rhetoric. Rep. Paul has a proven voting record of supporting these issues, and, despite this recent PPP Poll showing that Paul has little support from 2008 Obama Voters, in a head-to-head competition with President Obama he may be able to win over some of those Votes. No other Republican Candidate would have this ability. This, again, is based on anecdotal evidence, however, similar to the last point, if you go to the “streets” and talk to people about this issue, you will find that what people say reflect these statements more so than they reflect the PPP Poll.
Okay, so he has the Best Chance, but he is Still Behind in the Polls
So true. So what do we do? Well, let’s look at his biggest weaknesses in the PPP Poll:
In 2008 Latino and Hispanic Voters made a huge shift from voting for the more conservative candidate to supporting Sen. Obama. Rep. Paul would have to make a concerted effort to win back these votes. How would that be possible, especially with his immigration Policies being shown as strict and conservative? I think there are two things that a Ron Paul campaign can do to improve this.
- The War on Drugs: Frame the debate over the Drug War as not just a National Issue, but a Regional Issue. Commit to reducing the violence associated with the War on Drugs, and thus, reducing the violence on the border, and within the borders, of Mexico and Central/South American Countries.
- Matthew Gonzalez as Running Mate: Once securing the Nomination, I’d personally recommend Matt Gonzalez as a running mate for Rep. Paul. A strong Independent-Progressive from California, Matt was Ralph Nader’s running mate in 2008 and has since supported the likes of John Dennis (R) in San Francisco and has even spoken with Dr. Paul during a Anti-War rally in the Northern California City. This would not only help settle worries from potential progressive voters, but would also give Latin-Americans a prominent voice in National Politics.
None of the current Republican Candidates can say they fair very well within the Black and African-American Communities of the Country. With President Obama making history as the first Black President of the United States, this may remain an elusive voting block to capture. However, I think Dr. Paul has two clear policy positions that could potentially win over a number of African-American Voters.
- The Death Penalty: Despite both President Obama and Attorney General Holder commenting in the past about the predominant racist outcomes of Capital Punishment Trials (with Blacks and Latinos having a overwhelmingly larger chance of being convicted and executed than Whites tried for similar crimes), neither has done a single thing at ending this abused practice. Ron Paul, known for being incredibly consistent in his views, has said time-and-time again, that on the issue of the Death Penalty, which he once supported, that his observations of the gross, racist, abuses of this punishment has forced him, as a conscious human-being, to oppose any further use of Capital Punishment in the United States. In doing so, Rep. Paul may have a chance at resonating with African-American voters. Related Studies: http://www.amnestyusa.org – http://www.nytimes.com – http://www.aclu.org
- The War on Drugs: Again, Paul differs himself from Obama in his strong opposition to the War on Drugs. Paul has even recently stated that he would pardon all non-violent drug offenders that are currently in federal prison if he were elected President. Currently, Blacks (and Hispanics) make up a hugely disproportionate percentage of Prisoners in America. Blacks (and Hispanics) are far more likely to be convicted of a drug charge than Whites, which, similar to the Death Penalty, shows how racists are able to use these policies to legally punish those they hate and deem inferior. THIS MUST STOP! And President Obama has shown little interest in making that happen. Related Articles: 1 – 2
At 9:30 into video talks about Pardoning Non-Violent Drug Offenders
Women and Voters Aged 30 and Above
Aside from low support from Hispanic and Black Voters, Paul’s next weaknesses remain in Female Voters and Older Voters. What can be done about this? I’m not sure. Paul’s religious objection to Abortion may be too much to overcome, even if coupled with a “libertarian” stance that would put the decision power into the hands of the states. And his support amongst older voters may be challenged by his view of phasing out Social Security and Medicare, despite Paul’s repeated assertion that those already in the system would not be left out of their benefits, and that even voluntary programs would be acceptable alternatives to a mandatory system.
The point of this article should be to show that, while Paul is the strongest of the current (and potential) Republican Candidates, he will still need to work toward winning the Presidency in 2012. However, I think a strong campaign focused on the issues and continued enthusiasm from Paul’s supporters, can easily overcome these hurdles. Communication is key, and right now, Ron Paul looks like the best candidate for the job.