As we’ve gone through the rotation of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates each having their “flavor of the week” moment, many observers said it would never happen for Libertarian leaning Ron Paul.
Guess what? They were wrong.
New polls have him in the lead as the Iowa Republican Caucus looms large with its post-holiday January 3 date. One recent Iowa University poll shows him ahead of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, and at least one group in particular really loves him — home-schooling parents.
That’s right, home-schooling parents in Iowa are big fans of Congressman Ron “I say what I mean and I mean what I say” Paul because if he’s elected president, Paul has promised to shutter the Department of Education and provide increased tax credits for home-schooling families.
Now, I’m not a home-schooling parent. I don’t have anything against it — I just know that I don’t have the temperament to be my sixth-grader’s teacher, as well as her mom. And I’m pretty sure my 12-year-old is on the same page with me there. But increasing numbers of parents are finding that they want to be more in charge of their children’s school experience and how they’re taught certain topics. And that’s a political marriage made in heaven for a Republican like Ron Paul.
It turns out that Iowa isn’t the only state where home-schooling parents are rallying around the candidate they believe supports their views on education. The Paul campaign has announced a nationwide “Home-schoolers for Paul” effort to capitalize on the fact that voters who home-school their children tend to be a highly organized group — one that he can tap into with his views against federal education guidelines to his 2012 advantage.
Paul isn’t the only GOP candidate who wants that vote. Michele Bachmann — herself a home-schooling mom — is also courting those voters. But even if a candidate can rally the bulk of support from parents who home-school their children, it’s not likely to have a significant impact on the outcome, since only a little more than two percent of school-aged children are home-schooled by their parents.
I do know one thing, though. If Ron Paul can capture the majority of parents who home-school their children, he’s got a chance to gain more traction through the larger parenting community — one that is traditionally ignored at election time, unless someone is trying to pigeonhole women as “soccer moms” or “Walmart moms.”
So as a parent, is a candidate’s position on education enough to make you take a second look in 2012?
Joanne Bamberger writes the blog PunditMom and is the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (on sale now at Amazon!), a bipartisan look at how women online are changing the world, just in time for the 2012 election.