Over at Investor’s Business Daily, Sean Higgins notes that the rest of the Republican primary race could have looked a lot more like Virginia if everything had gone according to Ron Paul’s plan:
The Paul campaign knew it was unlikely that the 76-year-old Texas congressman could ever be the pick of most Republicans, thanks to his foreign-policy views, among other reasons. But they also knew he didn’t have to be.
His vast network of small-dollar backers and volunteers would allow him to continue even after another candidate assumed front-runner status. Paul’s libertarian message would give him a cause to continue to push – and little reason to make nice with the front-runner.
Paul could simply continue to campaign, picking up delegates – and media attention – as he went along. This would be bolstered by his status as the only alternate available to disgruntled Republicans wishing to make a protest vote.
This scenario wasn’t terribly unrealistic. After Rick Perry imploded, Paul was the only candidate besides Romney with a significant fundraising base or organization. Newt Gingrich bombed in both Iowa and New Hampshire, a scenario that might have forced him out of the race in previous years. Paul was competitive in both states.
But Rick Santorum managed to get the win in Iowa. Gingrich won South Carolina. Sustained by super PACs, neither dropped out. Santorum finally reemerged as the conservative alternative to Romney. Paul has seen his raw vote totals increase in most states and his campaign believes they are doing much better among the unbound delegates than anyone is reporting. Yet he’s obviously not having the same impact he would have had as the last non-Romney standing.
Virginia, where Romney only beat Paul 59 percent to 41 percent, is a good indication of what such a race might have looked like. I made a similar point yesterday.