criddic3 wrote: People vote in polls for him because he presents an unhinged ability to frankly say what he believes, but he'd have little chance of winning against President Obama in '12.
An interesting thing about this discussion in general is that the opinion people have a bout one person is based on his ability to beat the candidate from the other party rather than his ideals....
I think you have to be practical. You try to find a candidate who you agree with most, but that person has to be able to win. Otherwise, it's all academic. You can say you are for a billion things, but if you don't control the agenda you can't make them happen. Also, partially in response to Sabin, that person has to come across as credible on a variety of issues. A Ron Paul may be able to excite some young libertarians to vote. Maybe a few thousand, maybe tens of thousands. But at the end of the day, they wouldn't be enough to win in a general election. A candidate needs a broader coalition. The previous Republican winner, George W. Bush, was able to build a fairly broad coalition of Republicans, and he was able to persuade enough independent voters to make the difference in his two elections. In the 2000 scenario, he won enough states to win, despite a slight deficit in the popular vote. In 2004, he was able to hold social conservatives and moderates by appealing to his belief in "Compassionate Conservatism," along with presenting a strong conviction about the War on Terror (I wasn't exactly cheering the Marriage Amendment, as I thought it was a little over-the-top, though it helped bring out social conservatives). Ron Paul couldn't do that. He would not be able to convince enough Republicans in his brand of near-isolationist foreign policy to win the nomination. I suspect that would be the case among a plurality, if not an outright majority, of the general electorate. His support needs to be broader in several regions of the country, whereas a Rick Perry can bring many factions of the party (establishment and tea party) while also appealing to a wider range of voters from states in the south and west.
If he's smart he'll pick a northeastern running-mate should he win the nomination. Some have suggested Rudy Giuliani (a NY Post article this past Monday), while others say Chris Christie (they love the idea of him on the ticket). Still another pick could be even main rival Mitt Romney (if he'll take the #2 spot). Or if not northeast, perhaps Cuban-American Marco Rubio, of Florida, would make a good selection. He doesn't gain anything from a Bachmann (she's from Minnesota, and he already has enough tea party voters) or even Paul (he's from Texas, they cancel each other out) as VP. Although I would sort of love to see Ron Paul debating Joe Biden. The gaffes and wild statements they would trade back and forth would be hilarious!
More directly to Sabin's question: Libertarians are not a large enough portion of the electorate. The most they can get in a Presidential election as a separate party is usually 2%, and with a more persuasive candidate maybe 5%. That can swing an election, yes, but not towards the libertarians. As a candidate for the Republicans, Dr. Paul would have to reach far beyond his core base to win the general. Some Republicans might hesitate to vote for him, because of his foreign policy views. He would split the independent vote with his call for auditing and, more so, dissolving the fed and other established government entities like the Department of Education. Now, that's not to say that one or two of those things could be overlooked by some voters. But the combination of massive changes with an isolationist foreign policy (ie- saying we shouldn't care if Iran wants a nuke) ...well, it just wouldn't work. President Obama would paint him as a total loon, and unfortunately would probably succeed. Although that will be largely the strategy with other opponents, as well, it is easier to make it stick with some candidates than others.
“If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it,” Donald J. Trump (May, 2004)