This weekend in Arizona, I spoke at the annual conference of the Collegiate Network — the umbrella group that works with more than a hundred conservative and libertarian student publications on campus. Toward the end of my talk, I polled my audience on the 2008 presidential field. Who did these young right-of-center leaders prefer? It was an unscientific show of hands, but also a snapshot of what certain college students are thinking. The obvious frontrunners were Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul — I would say they roughly tied for first place. Mitt Romney clearly came next. The other candidates received a smattering of support, with Fred Thompson perhaps a little stronger than John McCain and Mike Huckabee.
In other words, the preferences of these students very roughly mirrored those of Republicans nationally, with the exception of Ron Paul’s strong performance. His supporters were enthusiastic, too–it seems that if you support Paul, you really support him. In another setting, his popularity would concern me. In this one, I’m willing to chalk it up to youthful idealism.