Republican consultant and blogger Patrick Ruffini is predicting that Ron Paul will come in second (to Mitt Romney's first) in the August 11 Ames, Iowa straw poll.
He leads the second tier in cash-on-hand. He was able to get 1,200 people out to the Hy-Vee (has any candidate done something that big on their own, not at an RPI event?). His home base in Texas isn't that far of a drive, and his people are motivated enough to come in from out of state for him. And he's making a big push on his Web site, which for all intents and purposes, is his campaign.
I was skeptical: Ruffini predicted that Paul's second quarter fundraising could top $4 million, then seemed awfully sanguine about Paul's "disappointing" $2.4 million haul. So I asked Paul's communications director Jesse Benton what the campaign would consider a victory at Ames.
"We expect to be in the top three," Benton said. "We've got four staffers organizing and we've got a lot of web site RSVPs from volunteers."
In 1999 George W. Bush won the straw poll after spending almost $1 million to buy the tickets attendees needed to cast their ballots. The Paul campaign won't buy blocks of $35 tickets: they're counting on a critical mass of Paul supporters who'll pay their own way.
"We're not trying to buy it like some people who will remain nameless," Benton said.