Rand Paul's support among Republican men plummets

Earlier this year, the senator from Kentucky saw his support from women slipping. Now men, too, are walking away.

Carlos Osorio, AP Photo
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., addresses the 2016 Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Mackinac Island, Mich.

Presidential candidate Rand Paul has a new problem with male voters. You can add that to his problem with women voters.

A CNN poll last May stated that the Kentucky senator was tied with some of his male counterparts – Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush – at 13 percent overall among Republican voters. But he was the choice of a mere 2 percent of Republican women.

According to a recent CNN poll released on Wednesday, Mr. Paul’s support among women hasn’t budged. (He is still the choice of 2 percent.) But now, he is the choice of only 5 percent of Republican men.

It might have something to do with broader problems in Paul’s campaign. PurplePAC, one of the three super political action committees supporting Paul, recently cut off funding.

Ed Crane, a co-founder of the Cato Institute think tank, told Politico, “I’ve stopped raising money for him until I see the campaign correct its problems. I wasn’t going to raise money to spend on a futile crusade.”

According to Mr. Crane, Paul’s libertarian views have “disappeared.”

Today, Libertarians like Brett Pojunis, chairman of the Nevada Libertarian Party, claim Paul uses the word libertarian as “a buzzword," according to the Daily Beast.

His longer-term problems with female voters might stem from how he is perceived to see women, writes the New Republic’s Jeet Heer. During an interviewing with CNBC’s Kelly Evans, Paul told her to “Calm down a bit here,” putting his finger to his lips to shush her.

But a deeper problem could be his very connection with libertarianism.

According to a recent Pew Research report, men are twice as likely as women to be libertarians (with only 1 in 10 Americans overall describing themselves as libertarians). The roster on the Libertarian Party website shows two women among the 22 national and regional leaders.

The outward face of libertarianism can sometimes be caustic toward women. Julie Borowski, who styles herself as “TokenLibertarianGirl,” says on a YouTube video: “Let’s be honest here. Women tend to be more concerned with being socially accepted and fitting in with their peers. They don’t want to be associated with something that’s outside the mainstream.” 

But libertarian Bonnie Kristian, who is a columnist at The Week and Rare, says the problem isn’t women-specific. “Most women aren’t libertarians. But you know what? Most men aren’t either. It is incumbent on us to change both these facts.”

“Since the 2008 run, the liberty movement has significantly diversified demographically,” Ms. Kristian writes in an e-mail to the Monitor. “Attending a libertarian event in 2008 or 2009 meant there was a real chance I’d be the only woman there – or, if it was a larger function, women would at least be significantly outnumbered. Now, that’s no longer the case. While there’s still some gender imbalance, there are many more libertarian woman than ever before.”

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