By most counts, last night’s Super Tuesday contests were a major disappointment for Ron Paul.The septuagenarian presidential candidate has based his campaign strategy on picking up delegates in the low-turnout caucus states, and was looking for his first win on Super Tuesday. His campaign’s expectations were high going into yesterday’s caucus contests in North Dakota, Idaho, and Alaska, three states well-known for their strong libertarian streaks. The candidate had also put in a surprising amount of campaign legwork in those target states this week, even travelling to Anchorage this week to rally voters in Alaska’s tiny Republican nominating contest.
But the libertarian stalwart was frustrated on all three fronts. In North Dakota, Paul came in second behind Rick Santorum, despite rallying caucus-goers in Fargo on election night. The results were even more disappointing in Idaho, where Paul trailed behind Mitt Romney and Santorum. The race was closer in Alaska, but Paul still finished in third place.
The caucus results are likely demoralizing for the Paul campaign, which has struggled to win the popular vote in the 2012 Republican caucuses. Although Paul’s campaign insists that its focus is on picking up delegates, rather than on vote tallies, it is unclear just how well that strategy is working. Sources close to the campaign tell Business Insider that there is growing pressure, internally and from supporters/donors, to start delivering tangible victories.
But Super Tuesday was not all bad for Paul, with the Texas Congressman pulling off surprisingly strong second-place finishes in Vermont and Virginia, Romney strongholds in which Paul succeeded in winning over a significant number of independent voters.
Paul’s performance was especially surprising in Virginia, where he and Romney were the only candidates on the ballot. Polls going into the vote showed Romney leading with 70% of the vote; but in the end, Paul ran away with a full 41% of the vote.
Although Paul won only 3 of Old Dominion’s 47 delegates, his startlingly strength with the state’s Republican primary voters indicate he might still be an interesting factor to watch in the 2012 race.
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