Ron Paul

Ron Up, Fred Down

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That's one conclusion to draw from the new CBS/New York Times poll of New Hampshire and Iowa. Paul's at 4 percent in the Hawkeye state—tied with Surgin' John McCain—and he clocks in fourth in New Hampshire with 8 percent of the GOP vote. The RealClearPolitics average gives Paul 5.4 percent of the vote in the state.* Rival pollster John Zogby left Sean Hannity sputtering when he predicted further Paul gains:

…Zogby said that Texas Congressman Ron Paul could end up surprising the field - and "embarass a lot of the frontrunners" by wildly exceeding expectations taking 15 to 18 percent in the New Hampshire primary.

And Paul's at 7 percent in Nevada… which brings us to Fred Thompson. Two weeks ago the former senator appeared on Meet the Press and refused to endorse a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution. Robert Novak started engraving the invitations to Thompson's wake:

Thompson's comments revealed astounding lack of sensitivity about the abortion issue. He surely anticipated that Russert would cite Thompson's record favoring state's rights on abortion. Whether the candidate just blurted out what he said or planned it, in either case it reflects failure to realize how much his chances for the presidential nomination depend on social conservatives.

Is it fair that Thompson should suffer for taking a reasonable, federalist position—one that he clearly believes in? Well, yes: He's running for the GOP nomination as the dream candidate of the social conservatives. And (these guys aside) he keeps "uh"ing and "y'know, folks"ing and "we have a Constitution, you know"ing and inspiring them to check out Mike Huckabee. From Pollster.com:

*Instant caveat! Alan Keyes won 6.4 percent of the New Hampshire vote in 2000, but 1)it was a 4-way race with him as the de facto protest candidate and 2)he'd run four years earlier and scored 2.7 percent.

UPDATE: Rasmussen polls Paul as a third party general election candidate and he does about 8 times better than the LP has ever done.