While many journalists still qualify any mention of Congressman and presidential candidate Dr. Ron Paul with assertions that his candidacy is a "long shot," the most recent polls have put Ron Paul firmly "in play" with other top-tier contenders for the Republican presidential nomination.
In the key early voting state of Iowa, Ron Paul is performing well in the polls as his campaign aggressively ramps up efforts to make a strong showing in the Ames Iowa Straw Poll. Rasmussen reported that in a telephone survey of Iowa’s "Likely Caucus Participants" conducted on August 4th, Ron Paul placed third with 16%, following Mitt Romney at second with 21%, and Michele Bachmann in the lead at 22%. With such a narrow gap among the three leading contenders, it is especially interesting that Rasmussen also reported that:
"Overall, just 28% of potential Iowa Caucus participants are absolutely certain of how they will vote, while the rest could change their mind. Among those who are certain of their vote, Ron Paul is on top at 27%."
Here at CAIVN, Ron Paul's independent streak, which sometimes puts him at odds with his own party, has always been of particular interest, especially his strong antiwar position and his insistence that America's fiscal solvency cannot be restored without seriously rethinking a foreign policy predicated on "policing the world." It is likely because of this independent streak that the recent Rasmussen report showed indications of strong independent-minded tendencies among Ron Paul's Iowa supporters as well:
"Just 49% of Paul’s supporters would vote for the Republican nominee if their man does not win the nomination. That’s well below the total for other candidates. Fifteen percent (15%) of Paul’s supporters would vote for President Obama over another Republican, and 22% would go the third party route. It’s important to remember that part of the congressman’s appeal is from his anti-war position which earns him support from many Democrats."
Meanwhile, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll released Monday also ranked Ron Paul at third place among GOP contenders on a national level, with 14%. Second place was Texas Governor, Rick Perry with 17% and leading the field nationally is Mitt Romney with 24%. Michele Bachmann places a close fourth with 13%. No other candidate breaks into double digits, leaving Americans with a clear picture of just which candidates are running "long shot" campaigns, and which ones are truly frontrunners at this stage.
While for some reason, the media has given candidates like Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty a high profile and annointed them with "top-tier" status, the numbers show that most likely Republican primary voters simply don't agree. At the moment, polling shows that the frontrunners in the 2012 Presidential Republican Primary are Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry, who is presently still in the exploratory stage of a potential campaign.
With this kind of showing, Ron Paul's candidacy can no longer be accurately characterized as a long shot. In fact, at this point in the 2008 campaign season, just fifteen months ahead of the November general election, John McCain was ranked fourth nationally in the Republican primary, polling at 11%. At third place with 14% nationally, Ron Paul is actually outperforming the candidate who would become the GOP's eventual 2008 nominee.
It is a statistical reality that Ron Paul now has as much or even more of a chance of winning the Republican nomination as John McCain had in August of 2007, putting the Texas congressman with an independent streak (you might even call him a maverick) quite firmly in play.