Yesterday around 5.30, Ron Paul won the CPAC 2010 straw poll, getting more votes than Romney and Palin combined. By 5.45 or so, his victory was already being roundly discounted as unimportant and without any real significance.
Erick Erickson at Red State summed up the poll results and concluded, “We can thank Ron Paul for showing just how worthless straw polls are.” Fox News helpfully reminded us that the straw poll is in no way binding. Thanks guys, because we all thought it was straight to the inauguration from here. Bloggers whom I’m pretty sure would have announced this win as a “Mandate from We the People” had it gone to one of the other candidates — Palin in particular — suddenly found themselves unimpressed and obliged to note that it’s mostly kids voting anyway and not really scientific at all.
To which I have to ask: So what? Little Green Footballs noted that there’s “never been a poll Ron Paul couldn’t win, unless you count a presidential primary race.” (That’s some deep analysis, huh?) But this wasn’t just an internet poll. This was real life — and it required real organization and real effectiveness on behalf of Ron Paul supporters to achieve this success.
A common criticism of the Paul campaign in 2008 was that the online presence never translated to boots on the ground, so it was ultimately doomed to failure. But if this isn’t boots on the ground, what is? The fact the Romney, a three year winner of the poll who blows his nose on money, and Palin, whom I think many would have presumed was wildly popular among the CPAC crowd post-book release, couldn’t manage to win a simple straw poll speaks volumes of the superior grassroots organization of Ron Paul supporters. And that is something which cannot be honestly discounted.
Moreover, many of the voters in the straw poll were young people or students. Again, so what? Young people are by default the future of any movement — it is in fact a tautology to say so. If the young people support Ron Paul, it’s for a reason, and the old guard would be wise to take notice. Because like it or not, in 30 years the Erick Ericksons and LGF’s Charles Johnsons will quite frankly be retired or even deceased. The college students at CPAC 2010, however, will be just hitting 50 — exactly the age at which most people begin to achieve maximum success in their fields…including the media and politics.
In short, that this was an unscientific poll in which a disproportionate number of young people participated and which is in no way binding or necessarily a good predictor of future GOP nominations does not make it any less significant. This is a symbolic victory, yes, but it shows that the group in Republican politics which is best able to mobilize supporters and attract the excitement and commitment of young people is the liberty movement.
And try as the opposition might to discount this victory, their claims rightly ring hollow. Ron Paul will no longer be the candidate stuck in the corner of the stage with one question for everyone else’s three. We haven’t won yet — not by a long shot — but as Dr. Paul noted at the beginning of his CPAC speech, “the revolution is alive and well.”
Cross-posted here.Published in