Rand Paul dropped out of the presidential race yesterday just before the New Hampshire primary. Arguably New Hampshire is the one state Sen. Paul might have had a good showing, it’s rather Libertarian leaning.
The question is no longer will Rand catch a wave, rather who will pick up his supporters.
Given his limited support, Paul’s departure is unlikely to significantly alter the contours of the remaining presidential contest, though Cruz, who had competed most aggressively for Paul’s libertarian base, is poised to swallow up at least some of his supporters. There was already evidence that some of Paul’s biggest donors are beginning to move to other candidates. Scott Banister, a Pay Pal board member and major Paul contributor, immediately announced he was backing Cruz.
In a radio interview on Wednesday, Cruz described Paul as “a friend” and “a very good man” and said he hoped to win over his supporters. “Rand has been a tremendous voice for liberty in a sense that his father was for many, many decades,” Cruz said.
Rubio, speaking to reporters after a town hall in Bow, New Hampshire, said he thought Paul “ran a good race,” though he disagreed with him on “a lot of issues.”
“He’s a true believer on issues of limited government and liberty issues, and I respect him for it,” Rubio said.
It’s my guess that Ted Cruz will likely pick up most of Rand Paul’s supporters. Not that it matters much in the primary, because Paul’s level of support peaked on the day he announced his candidacy and there’s just not many voters left to split up.
There are some bigger and more long-term questions though.
Will Libertarians still lean toward the Republican Party or will they just stay home in November? Rand’s father, a proverbial nutcase, as a very energized group of followers who vote in online polls but never show up at the ballot. Could Rand turned them into a movement, or will they just stay on their couch?
We’ll see. Right now Rand’s job is to get reelected as the junior senator from Kentucky.
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