Ron Paul Upsets Rick Santorum In Missouri Caucuses Buoyed By Huge Youth Turnout

The final outcome of Missouri’s lengthy caucus process may not be known for months. Early results, however, indicate that Ron Paul may well walk away from the state with the most delegates. Yesterday, his supporters overwhelmed the largest pooled caucus – Jackson county, responsible for sending 179 delegates to the state and congressional district conventions – winning over two-thirds of the available delegate slots. Mr. Paul also swept St. Louis, winning all of the city’s 36 delegates.

Missouri’s second and third largest caucuses, which convened last Saturday, reported similar results. In Greene county (111 delegates), Paul backers won nearly 60% of the delegate slots. In St. Charles (147 delegates), they so thoroughly dominated that the county GOP chair, allegedly a Santorum supporter, adjourned the meeting and called in the police to prevent the election from taking place.

In each of these counties, Paul supporters were outnumbered by Santorum supporters by at least 4-to-1*. Against these daunting odds, the Ron Paulers emerged victorious due to their unmatched grassroots organization and their ability to turn out the youth vote. In Greene county, party insiders said they had “never seen so many young people at a Republican caucus.”

Missouri’s results – a shot in the arm for the Paul campaign – have led many observers to conclude that Mr. Paul’s caucus strategy is working better than they had anticipated. His strong performance follows several events in recent weeks that suggest that Ron Paul supporters – energized by the message of limited government and fiscal conservatism – are quickly taking over the leadership of the Republican party at the state and local levels across the country.

Earlier this month, in Las Vegas, Paul supporters were elected to two-thirds of the board positions in the Clark County Republican Party after winning more county convention delegates than any other candidate at the caucuses – including Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, in Iowa, the state co-chair of the Paul campaign was elected as the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party in February. Last week, Paul supporters swept all the delegate slots in two of Seattle’s largest legislative district conventions.

Such accomplishments belie the mainstream media’s efforts to marginalize Ron Paul’s candidacy. The Associated Press’s projections, for example, report the Texas congressman as being last in the delegate count. Election analysts, however, insist that those projections are driven by a failure to understand the rules governing delegate allocation in caucus states. Josh Putnam, election expert and professor of political science, agrees. The AP delegate count, he admits, is based on “a fantasy proportional allocation of delegates in the non-binding caucus states.”

Heading into the Missouri caucuses, the New York Times reported that Rick Santorum was "frantically wooing voters" in an attempt to secure a "second victory." Since then, the Times' caucus blog has maintained complete silence about Ron Paul's unexpectedly strong performance in the state.

With his likely victory in Missouri, Mr. Paul has shown once again that his campaign – fueled by the passion and determination of millions of grassroots supporters across the country – should not be written off too quickly. He has more than doubled his voter base since 2008, intends to compete aggressively in Texas and California, and continues to upend the establishment narrative at every turn. Regardless of who wins the Republican nomination, all available evidence suggests that the Ron Paul movement will continue to be a significant force in American politics for decades to come.

* In Missouri’s Feb. 7 primary – meaningless, since it awarded zero delegates - the ratio of Santorum votes to Paul votes was 3.8 in Jackson county, 4.3 in St. Charles county, and 4.5 in Greene county. Ron Paul won the majority of the county-level delegates in Jackson and Greene counties, and is expected to do the same in St. Charles when it holds its rescheduled caucus on April 10.

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Hamdan Azhar

Hamdan Azhar writes about culture, politics, finance and technology. A data scientist by day, he lives in Manhattan.

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