He might be the oldest candidate in the field, but Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul heads into the crucial Christmas period with a surprising lead when it comes to the youth vote. Some polls are now putting Paul second in the race, ahead of Mitt Romney and not far behind Newt Gingrich. So could the youth vote push Ron Paul to victory?
Most assessments of Ron Paul’s chances tend to focus on the idea that he’s too far from the GOP mainstream to secure victory. Yet he has consistently been in the top two or three in the race for the past few months, and that’s despite a noticeable lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy from many within the party and within the conservative media. With the cheerleading given to Cain, Bachmann and Gingrich, how far ahead would Ron Paul be right now?
So what factors count in Ron Paul’s favour? First, there’s the strong grassroots support he has in many states, the type of support that tends to get ignored by the media but has a habit of causing an upset on voting day. Second, there’s the fact that his message is distinct from the talking points being pushed by most of the other candidates. And third, there’s the simple fact that this is a nomination battle that has so far been characterised by an extraordinary inability of anyone to really take control.
The Republican party might be wise to stop and consider why Ron Paul, a 76-year-old with a distinct disadvantage in terms of media coverage and GOP support, remains so popular. Will Ron Paul win the Republican nomination? Habit suggests that the answer to that question is ‘No’. But if Paul performs well in Iowa, as many suggest he will, he should gain significant momentum. So while it’s too early to say that he has a good chance, it’s quite true to say that he has as good a chance as Gingrich and Romney. And that, in itself, is pretty remarkable.