The Spectacle Blog

The Pros and Cons of Ron Paul’s Delegate Strategy

By on 5.15.12 | 12:45PM

Ron Paul has announced he will no longer devote resources to contesting the remaining primaries, but wasn't dropping out of the race or suspending his campaign. Paul would continue to try to accumulate delegates at state and local Republican conventions, with the intention of bringing as many as possible to the national convention in Tampa.

On the one hand, this decision makes sense in terms of spending money wisely. Paul has been beating Mitt Romney at many state conventions and grabbing delegates even when he comes up short. Paul isn't likely to beat Romney in any of the remaining primaries and neither the polling nor the first post-Santorum-and-Gingrich contests showed Paul consolidating the anti-Romney vote the way he did in Virginia on Super Tuesday. This also will soften the blow of a weak showing in Texas, Paul's home state, or Kentucky, where Rand Paul is the junior senator.

On the other hand, when your campaign is having its first sustained success since the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, why send signals that could demoralize the foot soldiers? Paul will still need his supporters to turn out in large numbers for the conventions and to donate to his money bombs. Will his supporters be as motivated if they are conceding primaries, suggesting (as his campaign chairman did today on a conference call) that they can't block Romney in Tampa, and saying there is "no chance" Paul will endorse Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson?

Although Paul failed to finish first in the popular vote in any of the caucuses, he has succeeded in getting the most delegates out of some states. To that extent, the delegate strategy has been paying dividends. But there is a question of what to do with the delegates. And one wonders if campaign prioritized process over momentum. If Paul had finished ahead of Rick Santorum in both South Carolina (which was doable) and Florida (which admittedly may not have been doable), it could have knocked Santorum out of the race. Even though there was no scenario where Paul was going to win Florida's delegates, he could have gotten more delegates in total -- and had more momentum -- in a Santorum-less race.

UPDATE: Yes, Ron Paul did win the popular vote in the Virgin Islands.

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