Many supporters of Senator Rand Paul are still in a state of shock that their candidate dropped out before New Hampshire. Iowa doesn’t traditionally elect Presidents and Senator Ted Cruz continued the trend of winning the caucus on an evangelical vote that isn’t representative of much of the nation.
So why did Senator Paul drop out? It was something I explored to some degree the day the announcement dropped.
The bigger question now is who will his supporters turn to? While it’s been something I’ve personally been watching across social media, it wasn’t something I gave indepth thought to until Mike Sheppard discussed it recently. It’s an intriguing discussion that deserves more than just the opinion of a former Ron Paul state chair turned State Senate crusader against the parking establishment.
Libertarians are a diverse bunch, but the answer here is not clear.
Some have shifted to businessman Donald Trump simply as retribution against the Republican establishment, viewing him as the candidate most likely to tear down the party. Others have shifted to Senator Cruz or Dr. Ben Carson, for a varying degree of reasons. A case is made by some that Senator Cruz is slightly more conservative than the rest of the field, whereas Carson scores points for at least being honest and unwilling to play dirty.
A majority of them however are firm against supporting any other Republican candidate. Potential other areas of support include the Libertarian Party, where many Ron Paul supporters defected in 2012 to support Gary Johnson in the general election.
Other scattered third parties exist, while more intriguing ideas exist such as Jim Webb, a moderate with some strong conservative leanings who left the Democratic Party last year. Webb, who is weary of war and strong on the second amendment, is widely speculated to be preparing for an Independent candidacy for President.
Senator Paul’s following has also made an excellent point recently that more seem to be leaning to: voting for him anyway.
In suspending his campaign, the Kentucky Senator is no longer actively campaigning for President. He still however will be appearing on a number of ballots across the country.
So why not vote for him?
When it comes to their cause, libertarians and members of the “liberty movement” are more concerned with policy than politics. This was a trait also largely shared by the Ron Paul grassroots, which is why most refused to support Mitt Romney after the nasty primary fight.
The answer isnt clear and as frustrations cool, the movement will begin it’s longterm shift. Where will that direction be? As noted above, it’s scattered. Libertarians by nature are individualistic and policy-focused, thus not apt to play party politics.