The Iowa caucus is less than two weeks away and Rand Paul’s team is organizing under the radar.
While Donald Trump and Ted Cruz duke it out over ethanol subsidies and the definition of birthright citizenship, Paul’s Iowa campaign has appointed 1,000 precinct captains and claims to have made an astounding 500,000 get-out-the-vote calls.
Rare spoke with Senator Paul about his campaign efforts and why he believes his showing in the Iowa Caucus might shock those who underestimate him.
“These are feats that have been unheralded by the media,” said Paul, noting his supporters’ on-the-ground organizing and his well-attended campaign events.
Paul explained that Iowa has approximately 1,600 precincts and that his campaign has appointed captains in over two-thirds of them. “What outsiders don’t realize is that some people show up and aren’t sure who they’re supporting. They can be convinced by the captains who stand up and speak in their precincts,” he said.
Rand Paul speaking in Ottumwa, Iowa (Gage Skidmore)
Paul also noted that captains help recruit others and bring them to the caucus. “I think we’re in a good position to turn our people out,” he said.
According to Paul, several of his rival candidates lack an operation with the same level of sophistication. “Trump is just starting to get a ground game but it’s yet to be seen,” said Paul, noting that Trump holds large rallies, but that it’s not clear he’s teaching people to caucus.
Paul also said that he’s seen very little organizing from Rubio’s campaign in Iowa.
Another factor that could give Paul an edge is his reliance on a secret weapon other candidates have overlooked: The youth vote. “We have 22 college campuses organized,” said Paul, “And we’re having a rally at Iowa State University just preceding the caucus.” Paul said the rally will serve as a launching point for students who will then travel to the caucus.
Paul told Rare that this is a unique opportunity because most Iowa caucuses, including 2008 and 2012 when his father Ron Paul was a candidate, took place while students were off-campus for Christmas break.
“If your goal is to capture the youth vote, it’s easier when you have people organizing each dorm and hallway. It’s also easier to get people out when they’re all in one location,” Paul said.
Paul has also been drawing sizable crowds. “In Iowa and New Hampshire our Students for Rand rallies average anywhere from 300 to almost a thousand,” said Paul’s Creative Director Marianne Copenhaver. “Our town hall events have almost all had standing room only crowds, averaging around 300 people each,” she added.
“By live streaming almost every rally on Facebook and Twitter” Copenhaver said, “we’ve been able to reach about 40 thousand people online during each broadcast.” “The crowds, in person and online, are enthusiastic, she said. “Most everyone seems genuinely appreciative to hear a candidate actually discuss policy specifics and answer tough questions.”
“It’s a stark contrast for the people who have seen other candidates in person,” she added.
In addition to the groundwork Paul’s campaign has laid, they’re getting an indirect assist from Concerned American Voters, a Super PAC backing him that has made 1.1 million voter contacts, and raised $3 million last fundraising quarter.
The group recently released a video compilation showcasing Paul’s conservative bonafides aimed at an Iowa audience in addition to several shorter ads that they’ve produced.
A recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll shows Paul in 5th place, ahead of Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Fiorina. This marks an upward trend for Paul, but in his view, still fails to capture the breadth of his support from both young people and non-traditional voters.
“The last Des Moines Register poll, we did pretty well in,” said Paul. “But they ask who did you vote for in the last presidential election, and [the results] greatly underestimated the Ron Paul vote,” he added.
“The poll had the Ron Paul vote [from the last Iowa caucus] at about 10 percent and it was over twice that.”
“So the question is, if all the polls are underestimating the Ron Paul voters and not including them, does that mean our numbers are likely underestimated too? We think so.” This means, as Paul explained that not only are polls failing to count the youth vote, they’re missing the existing base of the liberty vote as well.
Paul believes many factors in Iowa could benefit him, shocking pundits and political establishment, some of whom declared the senator unfit for the last Republican debate.
“We are working to consolidate the liberty vote,” Paul told Rare. He said his campaign has organized longtime Iowa liberty activists in addition to bringing new voters into the fold through non-traditional outreach.
Will these efforts pay off? Time will tell.
Two weeks, actually.
Keep an eye on Iowa and Rand Paul.