The Nevada caucuses on Saturday were a resounding win for Mitt Romney, and a pretty big loss for the three remaining Republicans in the race. In the end, Mitt's combination of "money, momentum, and Mormons" proved insurmountable, says John Avlon at The Daily Beast: Romney won 50 percent of the vote, followed (distantly) by Newt Gingrich at 21 percent and Ron Paul at 19 percent. This was an especially hard blow to Paul, whose not-so-secret strategy is to win enough delegates in small caucus states like Nevada to be a power broker at the Republican National Convention. Does Paul need to rethink his electoral plan?
Yes. Paul failed big time in Nevada: Nevada is "a Wild West state of libertarians," seemingly "tailor-made for Ron Paul" and his army of committed, well-trained followers, says Rosie Gray at BuzzFeed. If his caucus strategy can't even put him ahead of Gingrich here, despite out-organizing and outspending Newt in Nevada, that "calls into question the whole idea that picking up delegates drop by drop is an effective tactic." Paul's not just fighting for delegates now. He's fighting for "relevance."
"Ron Paul's caucus strategy didn't work in Nevada"
Paul did just fine in Nevada: The real fight in the GOP race is the battle "to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney," says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. And according to entrance polls, Paul won big among Republicans looking for the "true conservative" in the GOP field. Romney only won 4 percent of those voters, meaning there's a clear opening for someone — maybe someone like Paul, who took 40 percent of this vote.
"The true conservative alternative: Ron Paul?"
Plus, Team Paul is betting on the long game: Coming in third, behind the "nearly nonexistent operation of Newt Gingrich," is "a significant setback for Paul," says Garrett Quinn at Reason. But there's "a bright spot": Paulites are well versed in the intricacies of "the state delegate process, while most campaigns appear to be focused on just the ballot box." The upshot? Despite coming in third place, Paul and Co. are "giddy" over their promising efforts to elect delegates to the state convention — which would mean more delegates at the national convention in August.
"Ron Paul limps to third in Nevada"
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- The List: Why is Ron Paul running again? 5 theories
- Controversy: Does Ron Paul's unpopular bin Laden stance make him 'unelectable'?
- The List: Why does Ron Paul keep winning GOP straw polls?