Dave Weigel addresses my response to his article. He is right that Paul’s actual voters placed a high priority on opposing the war and President Bush, but I was trying to make the point that most antiwar and anti-Bush voters were voting for pro-war, pro-Bush candidates because they placed a low priority on the policies where Rep. Paul differed from the administration. It’s true that Paul alone had the credibility to rally Republicans disaffected by the Bush administration, but what the election returns showed was an electorate that rewarded such remarkable Bush lackeys as McCain for their alleged “independence.” In such an atmosphere, it made sense to try to exploit the weaknesses of the leading Republicans, who all had remarkably poor records on immigration policy. Yes, Paul “should have” claimed the rest of the anti-Bush and antiwar voters, and “should have” won the votes that went to McCain, but it wasn’t for lack of trying that Paul didn’t get their support. McCain wasn’t making a restrictionist or a “sick of Bush?” of argument, but he still won remarkably large percentages of both constituencies. As a matter of simple arithmetic, there were more votes to be had in a campaign geared towards restrictionism than one geared towards an antiwar appeal. Of course, he “should” have had the antiwar vote to himself, but that assumes that antiwar Republicans are going to vote for candidates who were actually against the war. They didn’t, and there is nothing he could do about that. His campaign could have focused monomaniacally on foreign policy, but that would probably have yielded no more votes than the campaign he actually ran. I would love it if American voters cared that much about foreign policy, but they simply don’t. 30% of Republicans may oppose the war, but they don’t vote based on that view.
from The American Conservative