Benefit or bane: Paul’s Democratic, independent coalition

Democrats and independents showed up in large numbers for Tuesday’s Republican Iowa caucuses — a 179 percent increase from 2008 — with nearly half of independents throwing their support behind Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who came in third place. (RELATED: Romney wins Iowa caucuses, Santorum places close second)

Paul, a libertarian Republican, has garnered large amounts of support from disaffected leftists attracted to his radical anti-war, pro-drug legalization stances.

“I just think that radical problems call for radical solutions,” Alex Hammer, a Democrat, 2012 Paul supporter and 2008 Dennis Kucinich supporter told the Washington Examiner.

Following a contentious Conservative Political Action Conference nearly one year ago, some accused Paul of actively allowing leftists to infiltrate conservative ranks, a charge partially substantiated in a recent Los Angeles Times story. Paul’s campaign, the LA Times reported, “is distributing information sheets advising Iowans that they can register Republican ‘for a day’ on caucus night, then switch registration back afterward if they want.”

“‘It’s easy. You can register on your way in the door,’ David Fischer, co-chairman of Paul’s Iowa organization, told voters” on Dec. 29 — just days before the caucuses.

Entrance polls from the Tuesday night caucuses indicate that 25 percent of participants were either independents or Democrats, able to take advantage of an Iowa state law allowing day-of, on-site registration for participants in the Republican contest. In 2008, when Democrats held their own caucuses on the same night as the GOP, 14 percent of voters in the Republican caucuses were independents or Democrats. (RELATED: Possibility of Democratic sabotage looms over Iowa caucuses)

Of the independents, 44 percent came out for Paul, while 18 percent supported “Romney, who was the next-closest,” the Washington Examiner reported.

Both Ron Paul and his son, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, have cited Paul’s popularity among Democrats and independents as evidence of his electability in a national contest against President Barack Obama — an electability consistently questioned by dubious Republicans. One poll by Democrat-affiliated Public Policy Polling had Paul at 39 percent and Romney at 12 percent in a poll of Democrats and independents.

“When I began looking into Paul, one of the things that just jumped right out is the leftist nature of his foreign policy, and this had to attract liberals,” Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to the conservative American Spectator and a former aide to GOP figureheads Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp, told The Daily Caller. “When you look at the vote that he got and the following that he had, a considerable — or at least a healthy — chunk of it are young people who want drugs legalized, they’re isolationist or “non-interventionist.”

“This,” Lord continued, “is not the Republican conservative base. Paul’s trying to fuse these two things together and they’re not fusible.”