Yesterday the Ron Paul campaign released this video that shows two college women talking candidly about working the phone banking system for Ron Paul as volunteers. Ron Paul has effectively crowd sourced his campaign and his get out the vote in Iowa and New Hampshire may set a new standard for political volunteer efficiency. In the video the women make a valid but not often overlooked point in campaign politics, "volunteer smart." Word of mouth is great, however in presidential primary politics, if your candidate does not win one of the first five primary states, there is no chance that they can become the nominee.
In the 2008 election the United States saw the beginnings of a revolution in political tactics when it came to presidential politics through the use of the internet. Now the Ron Paul grassroots may be reaching a threshold in the number of volunteers that will allow his poll numbers and eventually his numbers at the ballot box to break through the former ceiling of 10-15%.
The Ron Paul campaign has taken the approach which says 'national polls be damned.' You need to win one of the first three states to have a shot. And a campaign donesn't need the big corporate donors to be able to saturate Iowa and New Hampshire with broadcast media ad buys. Despite the lack of airtime in debates and in mainstream media interviews or features, the Ron Paul campaign has had contact with 67% of voters in Iowa according to the latest Bloomberg poll. The Ron Paul grassroots may be accomplishing something they only dreamed of in 2008; making the mainstream media irrelevant.
If the mainstream media attacks come knocking on Paul's door like they have already for Cain and Perry, it may not have the same effect. That is because voters are getting to know Paul outside of the traditional media channels, so attacks by those same channels may just entrench him as the anti-establishment candidate at a time when anti-establishment is all the rage with voters.
As Robert Wilkens pointed out in this article, having a rock solid fundraising base is key because a campaign can spend money with the certainty that more is on its way into their war chest. And because Ron Paul's grassroots network is so extensive the campaign only has ten paid staffers on the ground in Iowa. Ten may seem like a lot of paid staff but considering the ground game he is currently running, it is a clinic in effective use of political cash.
About the Author: Andy is a graduate student who lives in Milwaukee.