George Will is not so sure Paul won't mount a third party effort based on his massive zealot following who could care less which party he runs in. Will's column in the Rapid City Journal divines a strategy:
So, assume three things:
That Obama is weaker in 2012 than he was when winning just 53 percent of the vote in 2008. That Paul could win between 5 percent and 7 percent of the vote nationally (much less than the 18 percent that a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed prepared to vote for Paul as an independent). And that at least 80 percent of Paul’s votes would come at the expense of the Republican nominee. Based on states’ results in 2000, 2004 and 2008, and on states’ previous votes for third-party candidates, and on current polling about the strength of potential Republican nominees in particular states, it is plausible to conclude that a Paul candidacy would have these consequences:No candidate runs as an 'Independent' unless s/he runs in the Independence Party that claims to be the third largest political party...where your candidacy loses its independence, right?
-- It would enable Obama to carry two states he lost in 2008: Missouri (10 electoral votes), which he lost by 0.13 points, and Arizona (11), which he lost by 8.52 points to native son John McCain.
-- It would enable Obama to again win four states he captured in 2008 and that the Republican nominee probably must win in 2012: Florida (29), Indiana (11), North Carolina (15) and Virginia (13).
-- It would secure Obama’s hold on the following states he won in 2008 but that Republicans hope to take back next year: New Mexico (5), Colorado (9), Nevada (6), Michigan (16), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20) and New Hampshire (4).