The jilting of Ron Paul.

An anonymous e-mailer e-mails anonymously: “How much did Romney’s alienation of grassroots and Ron Paul voters at the RNC hurt the GOP’s chances of winning this time around?”

Hard to say. If it did hurt the GOP’s chances, it hasn’t shown up in the polls yet. So I’m not sure the grassroots/Paul voters are all that alienated.

Neither libertarians nor Tea Partiers are part of Romney’s natural constituency, but there seemed to be an effort to court them. Look at some of the stars of the convention. Rand Paul is the scion of the GOP’s libertarian wing. Clint Eastwood is libertarian. Mia Love, John Kasich, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Rob Portman, Paul Ryan, and Marco Rubio are (for now) darlings of the Tea Party. Ron Paul, even though he chose not to speak and refused to endorse Romney, was the subject of a tribute video.

Maybe it was all lip service, maybe it shows that the GOP is actually starting to trend toward economic conservatism. Either way, the poll numbers suggest (again, for now) that the libertarians and Tea Party are no more upset with Romney than they were heading in to the convention.

I think that in those states where the election is close, the Tea Partiers and libertarian-leaning Repubs will probably hold their noses and vote for Romney. Getting Obama out of office will seem too important to do otherwise. In the states that are strongly Democratic or strongly Republican, you’re more likely to see them vote for Gary Johnson in hopes of pushing the Libertarian Party towards 5% of the popular vote, which would mean matching funds in 2016.

It might be really interesting to see what happens if Romney’s numbers and the GOP’s congressional numbers don’t match. Say Romney sinks in the polls, but the GOP is a lock to keep the House and looks likely to take over the Senate. Maybe some of those libertarian-leaning Republicans start thinking “Congress can stonewall Obama till 2016, so I’m voting for Johnson or writing in Ron Paul.” Obama wins, the Republicans take over Congress. Then in 2016, the GOP puts up someone the Tea Party actually likes, and someone the libertarian GOPers can tolerate better than Romney.

Not happy with the title. “Jilting” might not be the right word, but I had the Granny Weatherall story in mind, so there it is.

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