Oct. 15, 201504:42
Otherwise, everything's fine.
The senator and his team are obviously aware of the fact that they're facing skepticism, so the campaign released a memo yesterday arguing that Rand Paul's candidacy remains on track -- all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
But as a practical matter, the overly defensive memo is itself evidence of the senator's systemic troubles. Politico noted:
It's a sign of the tough times that have befallen the Paul campaign -- which is currently buried in the polls and struggling to raise money -- that he's been forced to show proof of life to counter speculation that he's dropping out of the race.
If the state of the campaign were great, it wouldn't be necessary to put together a memo trying to convince people that the state of the campaign is great.
But having said all of this, I like a good memo as much as the next blogger, so I'll bite. What's the Paul campaign's pitch?
The memo, written by Chip Englander, the senator's campaign manager, and Doug Stafford, Paul's chief strategist, focuses initially on straw-poll results. That's understandable, I suppose, but the trouble is that straw polls offer far less predictive value than actual polls.
The document adds, "Like John McCain in 2008, Senator Paul’s campaign isn’t showing up in October polling, but will be there when it counts-on Election Day." And while it's true that McCain was struggling in parts of 2007 before making a comeback, McCain was never in as bad a shape as Paul is in right now, making the comparison hard to take seriously.
Perhaps my favorite line in the memo is the section in which the campaign emphasizes its emphasis on campus-related activism: "You will not see this student advantage show-up in polls, but you will see it show-up in elections-just like the straw polls we keep winning."
As a rule, there's a problem when a campaign effectively argues, "The polls look bad, but that's only because pollsters aren't polling the right people."
Finally, the memo argues that Paul has "moved up three spots in the polls" since the last GOP debate -- a claim that does not appear to be even remotely true -- and that the senator intends to "build on his recent momentum," despite the fact that this momentum is illusory.
If this is the best "proof of life" argument the campaign can come up with, the next few months are probably going to be unpleasant for Rand Paul.