Even protest candidates need a certain percentage of their supporters to think that they have a shot. Of course, the beauty of being a protest candidate is that you don’t actually have to win to have an impact. If Ron Paul breaks into the double digits in a single primary — which the current polls don’t show him doing — and wins at least a million votes in all the primaries combined — which he ought to be able to do, since Alan Keyes did about that well in 2000 — his candidacy will be successful by those standards.
Now, I think you’re right that Seavey underestimates both Paul’s differences with most other Republicans on foreign policy and their importance as a voting issue. National security has played a huge role in propelling Rudy Giuliani to the top of the Republican field, even though he is arguably out of step with the base on more issues than John McCain. The Rasmussen poll that tested Paul against Hillary showed him taking just 65 percent of Republicans, which I imagine is not purely a function of low name recognition (though he did pull about 35 percent, within the low range of GOP support in head-to-head match-ups).
But given the likelihood of Paul being nominated, that’s a moot point. Personally, I don’t buy into the idea that a more muscular application of the Bush Doctrine is going to make us safer and don’t see any of the top-tier candidates as standouts on issues like smaller government and life. That being the case, Paul is the most logical person for me to vote for. But I don’t pretend that my combination of issue positions represents the silent majority of Republicans.
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