by John Keller
The establishment media and republicans are in a panic that Ron Paul is in a position to win the Iowa caucus, and is gaining momentum in New Hampshire. One of the main strawmen put forth is that Ron Paul has a small but fervent set of supporters, perhaps 1 Million, who take over online polls, and have now realized how to organize on the ground. In other words, the establishment argues that Ron Paul's apparent popularity is really driven by a small group of Ron Paul fans, rather than being reflective of the majority of voters, and in a real election Ron Paul will be unable to win. Let's use widely available Internet tools to examine this argument and draw our own conclusions.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and here's my favorite. It was created using Google Trends, and I invite you to use the tool to replicate what I've done here: http://www.google.com/trends (Enter Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney). I changed the default time range to 30 days.
This set of graphs shows 3 major things — I've added a big #1, #2, and #3 by each point. First, unless Ron Paul supporters are getting up and using Google every morning, search volume shows that Ron Paul is overwhelmingly the most searched about candidate. The top line references Ron Paul to 1, and compares the search volume for Newt and Mitt to Ron (see the big #1) — He has 2x times the search volume of Newt Gingrich, and 4 times the search volume of Mitt Romney. He has more Google searches than Mitt and Newt, combined. Bottom line: the general public has interest in Ron Paul — note that this does not tell us if the interest is positive or negative, but it is sustained and growing.
Second, the bottom graph is Google's index of news story mentions. See the big #2, and note that the Mainstream Media really is ignoring Ron Paul. See how it is only now, when Ron Paul has been polling #1 in Iowa and gaining momentum in New Hampshire that the news media are starting to run stories on him. No wonder they call them dead tree dailies. They are not serving the public the information they want to know about, they are serving up the establishment line. Note to entrepreneurs: the gap between search volume above and news story volume below has a name — "opportunity".
Third, the city by city breakout of interest is very telling — see the big #3. The beltway insiders in Washington DC are breathing their own exhaust. They are the only area where searches for Newt Gingrich approach those of Ron Paul. When I first pulled this graph a few days ago, Newt was actually ahead. The level of groupthink is truly amazing, and helps explain the utter befuddlement as the Washington desk chiefs, K street gang, assorted lobbyists, and political hacks try to understand how and why Ron Paul can actually win in Iowa and New Hampshire.
There are many other sources of information to confirm that Ron Paul is really the people's choice, and the most interesting candidate in the field. Note that I haven't cherry-picked these, as Mitt is clearly winning in some areas. I will point out that Gross Google Results includes news stories and cross postings of news, which is why I prefer actual search volume to represent interest. Similarly, Mitt is ahead on Facebook "likes", however, Ron is gaining ground after his fine debate performances and Tonight Show Appearance . The Youtube videos are especially telling. Ron Paul's results page has multiple videos with hundreds and thousands of views each, and no video on the first page with less than 25,000 views. Mitt Romney's results page has a clip with 42 views in the number 6 position.
Gross Google Results
In summary, the mainstream media attempts to show Ron Paul as a fringe candidate to discourage undecided voters from aligning themselves with him. Don't be fooled, and don't be fooled by the "Ron Paul can't win" canard. The real world statistics and indicators show that the mainstream media has and is consistently underestimating the strength, depth, and breadth of Ron Paul's support.
John Keller [send him mail] writes from Atlanta, GA where he lives and works.