And Wednesday night, Stolz attended his first political rally, waiting in a long line at the Ritchie Coliseum in College Park to hear Paul speak, joining nearly 2,000 other students who chanted “End the Fed” as the candidate took the stage.
But Stolz, though seemingly easy pickings for the Paul camp, is actually Paul’s problem.
Stolz did not file the right paperwork to vote in his adopted state of Maryland in Tuesday’s Republican primary, when 37 delegates will be at stake. And for all his enthusiasm for Paul’s ideas, which he calls “classical liberalism,” Stolz will not be casting a ballot for him this season, either in Maryland or in his home state of New Jersey.
“I’m waiting until the real thing to make a decision,” Stolz said, referring to the November elections, adding that he would vote for Paul then if he made a third-party run. “The two-party system has collapsed. Paul is better than that.”
That, in essence, has been the Ron Paul story this campaign season: enthusiastic crowds who love Paul’s fierce independence but fail to carry him to victory at the polls. After running in 30 states and gaining a scant 50 delegates, according to the Associated Press, Paul has learned a hard lesson: Crowds don’t vote.
Even though Paul has had a superior ground game in many smaller caucus states and has raised nearly $40 million, he has been unable to grab a victory in any state and has tallied about 1.1 million votes, half Newt Gingrich’s haul and a quarter of Mitt Romney’s.
The problem is this: Although Paul is running to lead a party that looks like him — older, whiter, Southern — his crowds are younger, war-weary, more diverse and less likely to identify with one party or to vote.
The same independent streak that leads the young and the restless to Paul’s libertarian philosophy seems to make it more unlikely that these supporters will pick a side and a party, which is a requirement for many of the primary and caucus contests.
A University of Maryland “Youth for Ron Paul” Facebook page underscores this point, suggesting that party affiliation is best sold as a short-term fling: “If you haven’t yet, PLEASE register Republican (for just a month) to vote for Ron Paul in the MD primary.”
Polls show that 18- to 29-year-olds made up 15 percent or less of voters in every state where exit polls exist and that Paul lost the youth vote in every contest since Florida’s.
And although Paul is often considered to be the grandfather of the tea party, he has struggled to gain a sizable share of those voters. Paul earned single-digit support among strong tea party backers in 11 of 18 contests in which exit poll data were available.