The invisible candidate is confounding his critics and conventional wisdom by rising to the top of the latest Iowa poll with just six weeks left before the caucuses. by Walt Thiessen
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
This wasn't supposed to happen. Ron Paul was never a serious candidate. Just ask the experts. All the top politicos, all the major media pundits, assured us that Ron Paul could never win the presidency, let alone his own party's nomination, let alone a single primary, for goodness sake! He is not in the top tier. His views are too far outside the norm. He is not presidential. He doesn't look good on stage. He doesn't debate well. His foreign policy is too dangerous and unrealistic. He is a gadfly. He is a nut. He is too libertarian. Americans will never support him.
The problem with this analysis is that no one bothered to tell the likely Republican voters of Iowa, because with just a little over six weeks left before the Iowa caucuses, Ron Paul is suddenly in a statistical dead heat to win those caucuses with Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich. Apparently, Iowa voters did not get the memo about ignoring Paul.
According to a Bloomberg News poll out today, Ron Paul is now a top tier candidate in Iowa. The poll shows Cain leading with 20%, Paul at 19%, Romney at 18%, and Gingrich at 17%. Conspicuously absent from the top tier are Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, both of whom are languishing in single digits in the poll despite the fact that they have gotten huge amounts of press attention. Even Cain and Romney are slipping. The only ones gaining ground are Paul and Gingrich. The poll was conducted by Selzer & Co. of Iowa, the same company that does polling for the Des Moines Register.
Of course, even today, despite this poll, Paul continues to be the invisible candidate, although some in the media are beginning to notice. Politico sees Gingrich as the big news in the poll but admits grudgingly that, "Paul's strong position is also worth waching". CBS News, whose own debate a few days back dissed Paul by giving him only 90 seconds of air-time during the debate, admitted in their article today that the new poll, "shows a four-way tie in Iowa, with Rep. Ron Paul joining Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain in the top tier of candidates." But Fox News barely noticed the Paul surge, saving their gushing for Gingrich, and CBS, ABC, and NBC haven't even mentioned the poll yet, although MSNBC did barely mention the poll in a blog entry that completely ignored Paul's result in the poll.
The poll also notes some other important measures of strength. Paul leads all candidates in solidity of support with 32% of the support of caucus goers who say their minds have been made up. Romney is second in this category seven points back, and Gingrich places third with slightly more than half as much solid support as Paul. Among 2008 supporters, 69% say they plan to support Paul this time too. The Bloomberg article even quotes a surveyed voter, Sarah Stang, a retired teacher who said she switched parties so she could support Paul in the caucuses. "He doesn’t want to raise taxes on us middle- and low- income people." She also loves Paul's opposition to the Federal Reserve, saying, "They have way too much power. They should let the marketplace do what it’s supposed to."
Why is Paul doing so well in Iowa, something all the experts assure us cannot happen? He is reaching the voters directly. The Bloomberg article states that the Paul campaign leads all of the other campaigns in its outreach, with two-thirds of survey respondents saying that they heard from the Paul campaign. Bachmann's campaign is second at 61%, but it hasn't translated into support. So clearly the factors at work here are a combination of active campaigning AND Paul's attractiveness as an anti-status quo, anti-Fed candidate. These are the factors that are making the difference for Paul.
It is also noteworthy that the Bloomberg article mentions the importance of this kind of poll: "Polls in Iowa and New Hampshire -- site of the nation’s first primary -- are better barometers of the candidate field than national surveys because voters in those states are paying more attention and are aware of their early role in shaping the Republican race," the article stated. That is what makes these poll results the worst of all possible news for the Republican leadership elite, who keep assuring us that Paul cannot win, that he is not a viable candidate, and that Hell itself will freeze over before he wins anything.
Meanwhile, in Hell, inhabitants are excitedly talking about an anticipated cold front moving in from a particular central plains state.
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