Operation Live Free or Die

Ron Paul's Army hopes for a New Hampshire miracle

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Of course, pollsters don't use the same lists campaigns use. In Paul's case, it's a list of Independents and Republicans cobbled from lists the campaign purchased and winnowed down by canvassing. It's the sort of organizational problem that could make Tuesday harder than expected. Operation Live Free or Die has done some of its own canvassing, reminiscent of the third-party groups like America Coming Together that couldn't coordinate with John Kerry's 2004 campaign and underperformed the well-oiled Bush-Cheney campaign. So it is with grassroots campaigning in an era of strict campaign finance reform. ("The only thing I like about campaign finance reform is that it's saved me from giving even more money to Ron Paul," volunteer Ofer Nave told me.)

New Hampshire's primary politics could change dramatically after the Iowa caucuses. Fred Thompson might drop out of the race, Mitt Romney could steal momentum back from John McCain, Obama could fade and free up independent voters who had planned to back him. And that Republican race, moribund for months until John McCain started perking up, is going to be less attended to than the Democratic race. The number of volunteers working for Paul could match the talent, if not the numbers working for the frontrunners. They will probably exceed the numbers working for Giuliani and Thompson, who are doing poorly in pre-primary polls. After the Iowa Caucus results proved that Paul does appeal to independent voters, and that his poll numbers don't fade on election days, we'll see what's going to work in New Hampshire.

David Weigel is an associate editor of reason.

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