December 8, 2011 9:40 PM
Sure, Paul may still be a longshot to win the nomination. But he has one thing going for him that his rivals do not: The love of America's youth.
At 76, Paul may be the oldest candidate in the race, but he is the only one who consistently appeals to young voters, an elusive but energetic voting bloc that likes Paul's unorthodox, small-government
The latest polls bear out this claim. In a new CNN/Time poll of GOP voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, Paul comes in third place in all three states. But his polling numbers jump by nearly half among voters under 50, while support for the frontrunners, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, stays stagnant, or even drops slightly. Paul's support is even stronger among the youngest voters the latest Granite State poll found Paul in first among New Hampshire primary voters under 35, with 32%, and whopping 56% of those voters said they had a favorable view of Paul.
The Paul campaign has effectively harnessed this support, building up a massive ground operation of energetic young voters who are eager to spread Paul's unorthodox gospel. Since September, the campaign's Youth for Ron Paul initiative has amassed more than 15,000 volunteers in 307 chapters nationwide.
The campaign is kicking its youth outreach into high gear for a final push before voting starts. Paul will host two big campus rallies in Iowa this week, and later this month, 500 college kids will descend on Iowa and New Hampshire to canvass for Paul during their Christmas vacations.
(To qualify to "Spend Christmas Vacation With Ron Paul," applicants had to fill out an online questionnaire agreeing or disagreeing with statements like "after a complete audit of the Federal Reserve, the Fed should be abolished," and "cannabis should be legalized for recreational use.")
To be sure, young voters are not as dependable as older ones, and it is not guaranteed that Paul's young followers will actually show up on election day. But if these young converts do turn out, especially in Iowa, they could change the game for the Republican race.