Technology with attitude

Dr. Ron Paul: The GOP's Dr. Howard Dean

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Oh yes, it’s in the tea leaves…the stage is being set for yet another doctor to capture the imagination of a disgruntled party.

I blogged about Paul yesterday, and today ABC News has a very similar story about the man, his politics and the buzz he’s generating on the web…

For instance…

His name has shot up on the list of most Googled terms; it peppers the blogosphere; and it is attached to more than 100 networking groups on MeetUp.com.

Sound familiar? No? Well, here’s some more…

The campaign, however, insists the support is real. The day after the first Republican debate on May 3, the campaign Website had 706,000 visitors and, according to Benton, Paul has the most successful YouTube channel of any candidate. He is also the most requested Republican on Eventful.com, a site where users request candidates visit their city. Even more striking, Benton says since that May 3 debate, the number of donors to the campaign has increased fourfold.

“I wouldn’t call it a grassroots effort, I’d call it a grassfire effort. It’s growing by leaps and bounds,” said Benton. “We couldn’t even manage it if we tried.”

Web sites popping up in support of Paul encourage users to network through sites like MySpace, to vote in online polls, to donate money and to join local Paul 2008 groups.

Raising Kaine feels a similar vibe

I’m not a Ron Paul supporter, I think he’s dangerous because he has the kind of JFK/Barry Goldwater/Howard Dean aura about him that builds political movements. He’s got a very savy net campaign going; scoring on YouTube, MySpace, and winning online polls (so much so that some right wing sites are taking him out of their polls). This seems to be attracting more mainstream attention. Is it going to be enough to break through, probably not, but he may be able to resurect the coalition of libertarians, evangelicals and anti-tax conservatives that brought the Republicans big success in the 80s.

Right wing blogs are taking his name off of polls. This means two things. First, he’s winning these polls. Second, they’re scared of Paul. And that’s exactly where he wants to be.

Remember, we saw what a few hundred thousand dedicated people could do online in 2004. They built momentum in an otherwise boring race and the media latched on. After that, it was off to the races for Dean until his eventual implosion. And since I was part of the Dean campaign back then, I’m telling you that this looks EXACTLY like, but Paul’s is actually stronger because he has access to all of these additional online media tools like YouTube and MySpace, which gives him infrastructure he didn’t even have to build himself. Dean didn’t have this advantage, otherwise the Iowa caucuses may have turned out differently.

And here’s one last thing that makes Paul even more marketable than Dean: Paul is from Texas. And since no other GOP candidate carries that distinction, he could carry that state and eventually the nomination with it. So unless he makes some major mistakes in the coming months, I’m predicting that he’s going to be a major player in the GOP mix…and sooner than you may think.