It is hard not to be amazed by the blackout of media coverage of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. Had Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, or any second-tier candidate been performing as remotely as well as Paul has, he would no longer be regarded as a “second-tier” candidate. To the credit of such left-leaning outlets like Jon Stewart‘s The Daily Show and The Huffington Post, this phenomenon has not gone unnoticed by everyone.
Let’s think about this.
In spite of the extent to which Paul has been ignored by the establishment media in both of its leftist and rightist varieties, he unfailingly elicits explosive applause in every GOP presidential primary debate in which he has participated. A Fox News poll, of all places, shows that the overwhelming majority of its respondents hold that Ron Paul achieved a decisive victory over all of the other candidates in the most recent debate in Iowa. Of 7,991 “active” cities nationwide that participated in the poll, and 43, 293 total votes, 27,459 people thought that Paul won the debate. Newt Gingrich came in second place – with 5, 906 votes.
Statistically speaking, Ron Paul practically tied with Michele Bachmann for first place in the Ames Straw Poll, a contest that is evidently so significant that “top-tier” contender Tim Pawlenty’s third place showing compelled him to abandon his campaign. Bachmann beat Paul by a meager 152 votes.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released back in May showed that among possible Republican contenders (Perry may not have been a consideration as of yet), Paul stands the best chance of beating President Obama. This poll showed Obama leading Paul by only seven percentage points, while he lead Romney by eleven. Since then, however, things have changed.
A Gallup poll from August 23 shows that if the election were held today, Mitt Romney would beat Obama by two percentage points (48%-46%) and Rick Perry would tie with him (at 47%). It is true that this same poll has Obama beating Paul by (only) two points (47%-45%); but it has Obama beating “top-tier” candidate Bachmann by four points (48%-44%)! However, when it comes to that much cherished “independent” vote, Paul leads Obama by three points. The significance of this vis-à-vis my contention that Paul is a top-tier candidate himself and should be recognized as such becomes obvious once we grasp that Romney is the only other Republican candidate who leads Obama among independents by this much (but only this much). “Top-tier” candidate Perry leads Obama in this category by two points while “top-tier” candidate Bachmann trails Obama among independents by six points.
In a Texas poll among “882 highly active Republican voters,” these voters said that if the Texas primaries were held at the time that the poll was taken, they would vote for Congressman Paul before they would vote for any other Republican contender – including their own governor, Rick Perry (who was second choice).
As I write this, a Gallup Presidential Nomination preference poll shows that Paul has leapt ahead of “top-tier” candidate Michele Bachmann and is now third place behind Perry and Romney. Twenty-nine percent of those polled prefer Perry; 17% are partial to Romney; and Paul picks up 13% of the vote against Bachmann’s 10%.
Polls fluctuate. In any event, they are no substitute for actual votes. Still, the point here is not that Paul is likely to get his party’s nomination or that he would actually win the general if he did; these propositions it is not my purpose to either affirm or deny. Rather, the point is only to show that by the very standards by which establishment pundits and pollsters determine top-tier candidates, Paul should be considered a top-tier candidate.
But he is not.
The reason for this, I think, is pretty clear.