Grand Strategy: How Ron Paul Can (Still) Win the Nomination
by, 03-12-2012 at 10:38 PM (3065 Views)
- The Importance
- The Opportunity
- The Path to Victory
- Case Study - California
- The Proposal
- Why Your Support Matters
For the past two months I have spent 40+ hours per week organizing the California grassroots for Ron Paul, while also obsessively studying the GOP primary.
Recently I have identified what I think to be the most likely path to victory for Ron Paul. By victory I mean becoming the GOP nominee for president, and nothing less.
The path to victory requires massive grassroots organization on a scale never before seen. The organizational model proposed below builds on what has proven successful in the most well-organized precincts in past battleground states.
The strategy builds on key building blocks - for example, a way to organize volunteers statewide in all 50 states, having a grassroots headquarters or other operational center of gravity in each state, having a well-defined statewide leadership structure in each state, and so on - and integrates them into a system used successfully so far in California to organize the state in ways the campaign has not had the resources to do.
In California we have by no means perfected the below model, but we have identified certain key elements that can and should (and for victory, must) be replicated in every other state beginning NOW.
What is laid out below could determine the difference between victory or defeat for Ron Paul. Please read carefully.
The strategy below is intended to replace the 'bad habits' of the Ron Paul grassroots.
I think we have...
- Too much complaining about the media. It wins no votes.
- Too much Romney/Paul speculation. It wins no votes.
- Too much focus on alleged voter fraud. It wins no votes.
- Not enough focus on effective activism like making calls with the Phone From Home program: activism that actually wins votes.
That is not to point fingers or make anyone feel bad.
To win, we need to replace our reactive behavior ("They are ignoring/marginalizing/misrepresenting/cheating us, let's gripe about it") with proactive behavior ("Of course they will oppose us tooth and nail, let's keep our nose to the grindstone and do the hard and unglamorous work necessary to actually win this thing").
We need consensus on a strategic context that allows for meaningful, effective action on a scale necessary to move the needle nationwide on the measurables needed to win.
Victory is possible. It does not depend on the media. It does not depend on the other candidates.
It depends on us. Grassroots activists who care enough to work hard and experiment until we discover the winning formula.
Below is my best approximation of that winning formula. I'm sure I'm missing some things, but with your ideas and feedback this can become a complete and actionable strategic framework for massively increasing Ron Paul's chance to win the GOP nomination.
A brokered convention is increasingly likely.
That is the probable result of the two scenarios most likely to play out over the next few months:
Scenario 1: All four candidates stay in and the race remains volatile until the convention, ensuring that no candidate earns the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination on the first ballot. This results in a brokered convention.
Scenario 2: Romney dominates on Super Tuesday or some big day soon after, beginning a gradual wind-down of the campaign similar to what happened after McCain's Super Tuesday showing in 2008. Back then a few candidates stayed in the race for a bit, but the race was pretty much over by that point. Today the changed delegate situation means that such a speedy wind-down is less likely, but that may just delay the wind-down until a bit later in the process. If there indeed is such a wind-down, and Santorum and Gingrich stop campaigning, they will still very likely not release their delegates until they cash them in for influence at the convention. Meaning that Ron Paul, if we pick up the slack from Gingrich and Santorum, will still be positioned to deny Romney the 1,144 delegates he needs to lock up the nomination on the first ballot at the convention. Every inch that Gingrich and Santorum retreat, Ron Paul will advance, because his never-say-die supporters will propel his candidacy as the last non-Romney to keep fighting. We will then have the large not-Romney vote all to ourselves. Romney will start saving up funds for the general, unable to justify to donors continued spending on a primary that he supposedly won. We will have the field. A lot of people will vote for Romney just because the media told them to, and a few people will continue voting Gingrich and Santorum as protest votes, but the rest of the anti-Romney vote will come to us. Unless Romney was majorly dominant until the wind-down, we should be able to easily deny Romney the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination on the first ballot. This also results in a brokered convention.
There has rightly been a big focus on delegates. We are racking up a healthy amount of delegates, enough to be a significant force at the convention. But unless the campaign has a major trick up their sleeve, we are not on track to win a majority of delegates before or even during the convention - at least not yet.
We need to look closely into the convention process and the process of collecting unbound delegates.
There was recently an excellent article by Nate Silver, the lead political statistician at the New York Times, that delves into the delegate math and convention dynamics.
It is well worth reading in its entirety, but here is an important excerpt.
So we can largely disregard those "official delegate counts" on various news websites. They don't matter. They give the false impression that this is a clean process of candidates having a certain result in the beauty contest votes, and earning a certain number of delegates as a direct result. But that is not the case.
In politics, perception is reality.
If unbound delegates perceive that Ron Paul has the clearest mandate from the voters, and is backed by a massive army of supporters who cannot afford to be alienated if Republicans are serious about defeating Obama, then a significant percentage of them could be swayed to join the bound delegates we accumulate between now and the convention.
And if that number of bound plus unbound delegates exceeds 1,144, then Ron Paul will be the GOP nominee.
Look at the four metrics identified above as affecting perceptions:
- Winning key states
- Leading in the aggregate popular vote
- Leading in national polls
- Appearing to have momentum at the end of the process
Note that we do not necessarily need to be #1 in each of the above metrics. We just need them to be strong enough on balance that the "mandate" perception by unbound delegates is stronger for Ron Paul than any other candidate.
It's best to think of it like an equation.
The likelihood of unbound delegates choosing Ron Paul (or any candidate) = A combination of winning key states + leading in the aggregate popular vote + leading in national polls + appearing to have momentum at the end of the process.
In other words, a HUGE upswing in momentum in the later states - say, by winning California's 169 delegates that are up for grabs, winning a huge chunk of the 152 delegates in Texas, winning 30+% of the vote in other later states, etc. - could be viewed by unbound delegates as significantly more important than Ron Paul not leading in the aggregate popular vote.
If the Santorum and Gingrich delegates are massively out-organized by the Romney and Ron Paul delegates at the convention, they could be much more inclined to come to Ron Paul than to Romney, especially if the primary battle continues for months and there is bad blood between their candidate and Romney.
(Of course, those delegates will also need to feel good about throwing their support to Ron Paul over Romney. If Ron Paul supporters constantly call them neocons or insult their candidate, it will only hurt Ron Paul's chances at the convention. We need to be polite to everyone. What would Ron Paul do?)