Photo: Flickr/ Gage Skidmore
Forget the conventional wisdom: Ron Paul looks like an emerging front-runner. In two of the most recent Iowa polls he has shot up 19 and 20 per cent – practically tied for the lead with Herman Cain and Mitt Romney.
The conventional wisdom in the media goes like this: Because he is so different from the GOP, he can never attract more than 15 per cent of the vote. At the same time his fans are so devoted, no gaffe can end his candidacy. There are dramatic falls or rises, no flip-flops, no gaffes beyond saying what he has always said. And so the media has decided there is no story here.
But now he is breaking through those expectations and looking like a real candidate. How is he doing it?
Jack Hunter, an author and activist, who acts like an ambassador between the Paul campaign and the conservative movement explains it to us this way:
“Part of journalism is delivering the news, you have to tell the truth. But you do it within some sort of narrative and Ron Paul doesn’t fit the predetermined narrative. It was assumed that Mitt Romney is the establishment candidate and Michelle Bachman is the Queen of the Tea Party. Where does Ron fit in to that story?
“How does the media decide who is a front-runner? By any conventional standards we judge it by fundraising, poll numbers, and organisation. And in all three of those- yeah- Ron Paul is a frontrunner. His fundraising is obviously off the charts good, particularly the nature of it – and organisation he’s second only to Romney, and in Iowa it is the best. In all the conventional ways – he’s performing very well”
It’s true. Paul came in second to Michelle Bachman at the Iowa Straw Poll. But Bachmann has almost no money, and her poll numbers have collapsed. Paul has kept up the momentum.
Even more encouraging: Among likely caucus-goers in Iowa who say their decision is final, Paul leads with 32 per cent, followed by Romney and Gingrich at 25 and 17 per cent, respectively.
“We are probably one of the only campaigns if not the only where our candidate has been to Iowa at least once a week for the last six to eight months, ” campaign spokesman Gary Howard told us, “Others who have risen and fallen in the polls, they don’t have the organisation to sustain their moment in the sun. We are one of the few alternatives that have this in place to sustain.”
Does any other Republican candidate attract this many young volunteers?
If you combine his poll support with his organizational advantages, Paul has to be considered a threat in Iowa. If the caucuses were held today, he’d be the safest bet.
And he isn’t doing this with magic. He is doing it the way all successful campaigns do it: retail politics, a large donor base, and traditional campaign operations.
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