Unofficial fan site RonPaul.com is running an unscientific poll, under the title “What Should Ron Paul Do Now?” The options listed, and the results so far, are:
- 45.26% want Ron Paul to launch a new Presidential campaign as an independent or third party candidate.
- 34.22% want Ron Paul to stay in the Republican race and continue his efforts to take back the GOP.
- 12.05% want Ron Paul to drop out and endorse Barack Obama.
- 3.57% want Ron Paul to drop out and endorse Bob Barr.
- 2.24% want Ron Paul to drop out and endorse John McCain.
- 0.53% want Ron Paul to drop out and endorse Chuck Baldwin.
- 2.13% want Ron Paul to do something else.
The poll stays open until tomorrow, June 10. Vote here, and then come back.
Notwithstanding its scientific merits (being self-selected and all), the poll is irrelevant in determining what Ron Paul actually does. Ron Paul will continue to do what he has been doing, and saying he will do, since the start of his campaign: stay in the Republican race and party.
However, the poll does have one value, as a snapshot of where the rEVOLution is today; a blurred and out-of-focus snapshot, to be sure, but some actual data rather than pure speculation.
Estimating 1,000,000 rEVOLutionaries — which I think is on the high end, but makes cardinalizing the percentages easier — and assuming the sample's percentages hold for the larger group, then:
5,300 are already planning to vote or volunteer for the Constitution Pary, 35,000 for the Libertarian Party, and 120,000 for the Democratic Party. Most of those, I'd conjecture, are volunteers who moved into the rEVOLution from those parties, and now are moving back. The parts of the rEVOLution that attracted them, are what attracted them to those parties in the first place.
Similarly, the 22,400 rEVOLutionaries who want Paul to endorse McCain are committed to the Republican Party,.even to the extent of voting McCain themselves.
The second-largest group (342,200) also remains committed to the Republicans, though I'd call their commitment more provisional — they're prepared to stay in the GOP while Ron Paul does — and I doubt many of them will vote for McCain (unless Paul does endorse him). This looks like the band of 350,000 “true believers” Paul talked about in his March video, whom he hopes to make the nucleus of a reformed GOP. I think it includes not only Republicans, but also many of those new to politics.
The largest group (450,000) remains a mystery. As Paul will not be running independent or third-party, in the end they will have to choose one of the other options. There is no reason to think they will break as per the other 550,000; my conjecture is that those divided primarily by prior party loyalty, and this largest group is not motivated by party loyalty. Many of them may never have been in a party previously. All one can say for sure is that they are likely not Republicans.
This 450,000 (or so) is the real prize up for grabs by Barr and Baldwin (not to mention Obama and McCain). How many supporters each of these gentlemen can capture depends on how their own campaigns go between now and September.
That gives some idea, though a very tentative one, of the direction(s) the rEVolution is moving at this time. It would be interesting and informative to continue to run this poll through the campaign and track the results.