Here’s something you hear on cable news all the time: Ron Paul hasn’t won a primary. He hasn’t won a caucus. Sure, he’s stealing a delegate at state conventions here and there, because his forces are well organized. But he’s lost. He should drop out and settle for an early-afternoon speaking slot at the Republican convention.
Here’s something you don’t hear: Representative Paul actually beat Mitt Romney in 10 states. In a manner of speaking.
What are we talking about? Money, that’s what. Political pros are fond of talking about the “money primary,” in which candidates compete, not for votes, but for campaign donations. It’s a crucial part of any nomination race, because a candidate without cash is like a shark that’s not moving forward, if you understand what we’re saying.
Look at Newt Gingrich: Don’t you think that deep down he really doesn’t want to drop out? But his campaign has run up millions of dollars in debt. He’s a sinking shark. (He loves zoos and aquariums, too, so he’d understand the reference.)
Paul, on the other hand, is still swimming. In the money primary context, the GOP nomination race has almost always been a two-man contest between Mr. Romney and Paul. Through the first quarter of 2012, Romney raised $87 million and Paul $37 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Gingrich’s soon-to-be-extinct effort garnered $22 million, while Rick Santorum raised $21 million before he dropped out.
What’s more, Paul currently has about $1.7 million cash on hand, and debts of $0. Gingrich has $1.2 million cash on hand, and debts of $4.3 million, according to the latest public figures.
OK, OK, presumptive nominee Romney has $10 million in the bank, no debts, and a general election looming on the horizon. But before we pivot toward November, let’s remember that Paul outraised Romney in 10 states, including some that will be key battlegrounds in the fall, according to figures compiled by Eric Ostermeier, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.
“Ron Paul leads Mitt Romney in large donor itemized fundraising in 10 states, representing all four geographical regions from the northeast (Maine), the South (Arkansas), the Midwest (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin) and the West (Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico),” writes Mr. Ostermeier on his Smart Politics blog.
If small-donor contributions were rolled into the figures, it is likely Paul would have won the money primary in a few other states, such as Vermont, Delaware, and Montana, Ostermeier writes.
Of course, Romney had a big cash lead in rich states such as New York and California. That’s how he ended up with all those tens of millions of campaign simoleons. But Paul did beat Romney somewhere, in something. You can take it to the bank.