Ron Paul Draws Large Crowds in Rhode Island, Looks to Capitalize With a Win

Is there a primary in Rhode Island?

That just about reflects the impact the Tuesday contests have made on one of the nation’s most Democratically-aligned states.

Rhode Island has long been a presidential primary orphan state. A 2010 Gallup poll showed a 39% to 11% split between Democratic and Republican registrations in the state with 50% of voters classifying themselves Independent.

With the governor, (a declared Independent, but very much left-leaning) both senators, and all Congressmen, and even a crushing majority of the state legislature registered as Democrat, Republicans have an almost impossible task of simply being, heard much less elected in Rhode Island.

Until a spirited battle between Obama and Clinton in 2008, Democratic Presidential Primary candidates largely avoided the Ocean State in favor of larger more competitive states where the outcome was less predictable.

This year, although Democratic forces are out trying to get people to the polls, no one expects more than the party faithful to make the trip to the voting booth and predicted turnout is low.  

Local Obama forces are trying to rally supporters to go to the polls and then attend a "Primary Watch Party" in an effort to start organizing the forces that are expected to lead the effort on the president's behalf in the fall.

Since Santorum left the race several weeks ago, the wind has left the sails of the Republican effort in the state. Mitt Romney recently made an appearance to a sparse crowd of less than 500 people that was poorly covered in the local press. Ron Paul drew a large crowd recently at the University of Rhode Island that could impact the primary result only if his student base actually takes the trouble to vote.

Although Republican registration is tiny, with the Tea Party active in the stat Paul could be given a boost. Still, Romney is likely to prevail.