Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul shares a lot with his father Congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul–political beliefs, supporters, campaign strategy, a last name–but Time has a piece on how the father and son team’s combined influence could be influencing electoral politics. You can read the story here (excerpted below) and decide whether its prognostications clash with the pro-centrist predictions being made elsewhere.

Rand’s quick retreat from the topic of government-mandated integration shows that he understands that politics sometimes trumps principle. But he, like his father, also knows well that a genuine libertarian impulse is astir in America. It may not be as dogmatic as the strain studied at the von Mises Institute; we’re not ready to legalize heroin just yet. But polls show an uptick in both social permissiveness and skepticism of government intervention.

The Pauls also understand that libertarianism is merging with populism to explosive effect. Past populist movements summoned government action against the excesses of big business. Today, many Tea Partyers view government and business as working in collusion to rob the average guy — as demonstrated by the huge bank bailout that restored Wall Street bonuses but brought little relief to Main Street. With that comes a sense of outsiderness — an intense distrust of all authority, from Congress to the media to financial institutions, even the medical establishment. This too favors the Pauls, two men with open disdain for the inner sanctums of power and money. “Ideas are the only things that count, and politicians are, for the most part, pretty much irrelevant,” Ron Paul told the London Independent in December.

All that, and the rise of the son, makes a repeat White House run by the father more likely, no matter his age. Ron Paul has already scored a big win in the first straw poll of the 2012 season, beating the likes of Romney, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin at a gathering of conservatives in February. “It’s way too early” to decide, Paul says. “I have no plans, but I have not ruled it out.” And why would he? He has already waited a long time — and it appears the country is moving his way.