Ron Paul is a 76-year-old Republican presidential nominee who has managed to generate youth support through a trio of youth political organizations as well as substantial online support.
Sophomore Ben Levine serves as the Young Americans for Liberty president at Drake University and worked on Paul’s election campaign.
“I’ve been waiting for this election cycle, praying that he would run, and he did,” Levine said. “He is generally thought to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative.”
As of Aug. 15, Paul received a plurality of the 18 to 29-year-old vote with 29 percent of the age group’s support, according to the national GOP primary poll.
“Ron Paul gets so much coverage on the Internet; it’s unbelievable,” Levine said. “Internet media is where he shines, and youths are attracted to that.”
Paul’s online support was visible during his 2008 campaign, making him more accessible to younger generations who use the web an estimated 7 1/2 hours per day, according to the New York Times.
According to a 2007 Bloomsburg BusinessWeek article about Paul: “His campaign says that some 80 percent of the $17 million raised in the past four quarters—including about $4.3 million in one October day—has come from online supporters.”
“Students for Paul” was a group established during Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign. The group established over 500 college and high school chapters, and 26,000 student supporters joined in eight months across all 50 states, according to YAL.
First-year Cahlen Brancheau is studying computer science. The Adel, Iowa, native is a member of YAL and supports Paul.
“We as youth see so much inconsistency in politics and get to the point where we think, ‘What can I do? They don’t represent me,’” Brancheau said. “Paul has shown himself to be principled and consistent.”
YAL is a continuation of “Students For Paul.” The Drake chapter has nearly 38 new members this year.
“I can’t help but attribute the growth to the election cycle,” Levine said. “YAL is the fastest growing conservative youth group in America.”
“Youth For Ron Paul” is a new initiative that was recently launched by Paul’s 2012 campaign.
According Paul’s campaign website: “The Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign announced the national ‘Youth for Ron Paul’ effort to organize and mobilize the increasing number of youth who support the 12-term congressman from Texas’ bid for the presidency.”
Levine said that Paul gives youth an alternative choice to traditional politicians.
“Right now, students are politically choosing between the lesser of two evils,” Levine said. “Paul works with people of similar principles, not similar political parties.”
The 2012 election cycle is the second presidential attempt for Paul, who is running for the Republican Party but possesses values considered libertarian in nature. Paul aims to reduce the size of the federal government and to strictly adhere to the Constitution awarding more civil freedoms.
“A lot of people say Ron Paul is extreme,” Levine said. “If he’s extreme, then peace, keeping the money you earn, protecting life and adhering to the Constitution is extreme. In that case, I’m extreme and so are a lot of people.”
Students interested in joining YAL can contact Levine at email@example.com.