South Carolina Tea Party Doesn’t Like Ron Paul

After strong showings in the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary, I thought I’d pull up the Insider Advantage South Carolina Primary Poll and see Ron Paul on his way to his first victory. After all, South Carolina is a Tea Party stronghold (according to the NY Times, 61% of South Carolina voters approve of the Tea Party, which is more than double than the rest of the ron-paulcountry) , and you’d think he’d be their champion.

But no:

Romney 23%
Gingrich 21%
Santorum 14%
Paul 13%
Perry 5%
Huntsman 7%

So this is me officially saying that I clearly don’t understand who the Tea Party voters are or what they want. I thought they wanted small federal government, states rights, that sort of thing – shouldn’t they be all about Ron Paul? Yet South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley (who was swept into office amongst a wave of Tea Party support) has endorsed Mitt Romney (in December), who is holding a small lead over Newt Gingrich. Gingrich? This is totally shocking to me. How can Romney (who’s own health care reform was used as a model for Barack Obama’s health care reform) be in the lead, immediately followed by Gingrich (the former Speaker of the House who resigned in disgrace after paying ethics fines and went on to found a company that helps corporations bypass the lobbying process and get direct access to Congress) be in second by only a few points? How can South Carolina Tea Party voters possibly like these guys?

Ron Paul has had strong numbers till now; he took 21.4% in Iowa, which had him right at the top of the pack with Romney (24.6%) and Santorum (24.5%), and 22.9% in New Hampshire for a commanding second place. Sure, I know hardly anyone actually lives in those states, but still, he’s been doing consistently better than everyone but Romney, right? Yet influential Republican Senator Jim DeMint, who endorsed Romney in 2008 but has not endorsed him this time around (or anyone else, for that matter) is either setting up a dramatic last minute endorsement or just isn’t impressed with the candidates.

So why doesn’t the South Carolina Tea Party rally around Ron Paul? From an ideological standpoint, he seems like their guy – it can’t be some Christian Conservative thing (Romney is a Mormon and Gingrich converted to Catholicism), and I can’t see it being a case of character (as Romney and Gingrich have no character to speak of), so what is it? Are they just fragmented against a field they find uninspiring? Perhaps Paul’s views on abortion have hurt him here (which would make it a Christian Conservative thing…), or some other issue I’m unaware of.

Since 1980, the South Carolina Primary has picked the eventual Republican nominee correctly every single time (which is only 4 times, but still, 4 times in a row is an impressive streak), and if the current poll numbers hold up, it’ll be Mitt Romney.

South Carolina says, “You’re welcome,” Mr. President.

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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on January 12, 2012, in election 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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