Ron Paul is popular on the Internet, too, with more YouTube subscribers than any other candidate, the fastest-growing political presence in MySpace, a constant perch atop the Technorati rankings, and a near-Olympian record at winning unscientific Web polls.
But will this translate into votes or will it flame out like the buzz for the Snakes on a Plane movie that ended up not making all that much money? There’s a couple ways that Ron Paul’s campaign is different from others:
It’s transpartisan. Paul’s fan base stretches all the way from Howard Phillips to Alexander Cockburn. The Internet makes it easier for such dispersed minorities to find each other, and the congressman’s candidacy has given them a new reason to seek each other out. It’s idea-driven. Some politicians are in this race because they really want to run the country. Some are in it because they want to be vice president, or be secretary of state, or extract some other prize from the eventual nominee. Paul is in it to inject ideas into the campaign. It has a life of its own. The Paul movement is different. Unlike the Jackson and Perot campaigns, it is open, decentralized, and largely driven by activists operating without any direction from the candidate or his staff.