Ron Paul’s Path to the White House Goes Through Nevada

While most of the presidential candidates have virtually ignored the early voting state of Nevada, the Ron Paul campaign is making a big push there, making more trips than any of his rivals, opening two campaign offices, and unveiling his centerpiece budget plan there in October.

“It’s a natural constituency for Ron Paul,” said Eric Herzik, chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Nevada Reno.

Paul’s message of limited government and individual liberties plays well in Nevada, which is a conservative anti-tax state, but also has liberal pro-choice laws and the lowest average attendance of church in the nation, Herzik said.

A strong showing in Nevada’s Republican Caucus on Feb. 4 could give Paul a lot of momentum in the race, Herzik said.

Paul does well in caucus states like Iowa and Nevada, where superior organization and passionate supporters play to his strengths. Plus Paul’s campaign manager has reportedly said it is making a push in the state.

Paul did well in Nevada four years ago, placing second to Mitt Romney, but since then the economy has taken a severe downturn and no state has been hit harder by the collapse in the housing industry than Nevada.

That complicates the picture for Paul, because his message of “no bailouts” might fall on deaf ears in a state that is trying to rebound from 13 percent unemployment and where median income is falling, Herzik said.

Paul’s distinct libertarian streak is what draws his passionate supporters, but that support hits a ceiling of 20 percent, Herzik said. In a crowded primary, though, that could be enough to eke out a victory.