Coverage of Paul is the Latest Example of Media Incompetence
Following a story by Politico on Friday which involved attempting to predict which Republican Presidential campaigns will soon end, a number of other publications picked up the narrative, indicating that Rand Paul‘s campaign is on “death watch” and that he, along with Bobby Jindal, is “reportedly preparing to exit” the Presidential race (it is worth noting for comedic purposes that the latter article also states that “many Republicans viewed [Rick Perry] as a shoo-in for the nomination” in 2016).
As a point of clarification, what the Politico story actually contained was a “bipartisan survey of the top activists, operatives and strategists in Iowa and New Hampshire.” In the survey, 25% of those in Iowa predicted that Jindal will be the next candidate to drop out of the race, while 27% in New Hampshire predicted that it will be George Pataki. Senator Paul came in second in both states. On all counts, the predictions seem to be nothing more than educated guesses based on the current state of the race; there is no indication that the observations tapped into the unique credentials of those polled.
However, the media game of “telephone” has merely compounded the issue in recent days. It would appear that many pundits wish to act as if Senator Paul is moving closer to leaving the race, but it would appear that nothing could be further from the truth. In an interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News, Senator Paul stated that “we’re just getting started,” pointing to the success of his new Students for Rand initiative, which has already formed 350 chapters and recruited 1,000 students to caucus for Paul in Iowa.
Senator Paul makes a significant point: national polling in September (and October) has rarely had any significance in who is eventually chosen as a party’s nominee. In fact, national polling is always ancillary; performing well and executing a ground game in individual states is what ultimately wins the nomination. This same polling has been known to be very fickle throughout early stages, and with the largest Republican field in recorded history, there should be little surprise that several have already been able to refer to themselves as front-runners.
It is worth noting that some two-thirds of primary voters are still unsure of their primary choice. Due to this fact, one should continue to see numerous peaks and valleys for each of the major candidates throughout the next several months. Additionally, it is to be expected that current leaders like Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, each with minimal political experience, are more prone than others to both gaffes and revelations dealing with their pasts.
Another detail that so many of these publications seem to be missing is not an archetypal Republican Presidential candidate: he is someone who can recruit voters of all backgrounds and energize sects of the electorate who would otherwise be ignored. By focusing on topics like the War on Drugs, foreign interventionism and NSA spying, Senator Paul is appealing to so many who have been ignored by the GOP for a generation.
Finally, polls are unable to measure enthusiasm, which will come in handy in particular in caucus states. While the supporters of other candidates may be lukewarm in their support, it is all but guaranteed that those who support Senator Paul are “all in,” as has been proven in Paul’s numerous straw poll victories over the past several months. Excitement can be infectious and can sway undecided voters when the time comes.
In short, lovers of liberty shouldn’t let any misleading headlines or media narratives sway their attitudes on this coming election. Rand Paul presents a kind of unprecedented candidacy, and he has made it clear since announcing that he is in for the long haul.