COMMENTARY | With the results in from the Florida primary, it is clear that the front-runner for the GOP nomination is Mitt Romney. Romney won the primary with a decisive 46.4 percent, which was more than 14 percent more than second-place Newt Gingrich. Rick Santorum finished in a distant third and Ron Paul finished fourth with just 7 percent of the vote. It is not looking good for a Ron Paul nomination.
However, this does not mean that Ron Paul will bow out of the race for the Republican nomination, or for the presidency. Paul has previously run for president as part of a few small third parties. This time, he has given no indication that he has any thoughts of running as a third party candidate. Whether that pans out in the end, no one can know. If he does not manage to secure the Republican nomination, he may do just that. Paul has a dedicated, if slightly too small, base of support, which should not be underestimated.
For those who remember the 2000 election, where Al Gore lost the presidential election to George W. Bush, it was largely believed that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader took just enough votes to impact the election. Those who voted for the Green Party would have most likely otherwise voted for the Democratic Party, if the individuals would have otherwise voted. While that cannot be known for sure, it is a popular belief.
If Ron Paul manages to take his supporters from voting for the ultimate Republican nominee to vote for him in a third party role, then he may draw enough support to take away a Republican victory. With the party fractured at this point between the extreme conservatives who wish to outlaw abortion and birth control, to the tea party members who believe agencies like the FDA should be abolished to the moderates, it is not looking good for Republicans to take back the White House. If Ron Paul further takes away votes, it may be the end of the road for the party and ultimately another four-year term for President Obama.
With a long way left to go before the end of the primary season, and an ultimate nominee for the Republican party, a lot could still happen and things may change.