NPR takes seriously the notion that, while Mitt Romney has consistently seemed to have a lock on victory in New Hampshire, Ron Paul is now a likely second place:
"I could very well see Ron Paul coming in second place," said longtime pollster Andy Smith, who runs the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
Smith's numbers last week show Paul in third with 12 percent, up from just a month ago. Other alternatives to Romney have risen to double digits only to fall back again, but Smith says Paul has some key advantages.
"He's got more money than other candidates, and he seems to have a more committed young following," he said. "Those young voters [are] always important on the campaign trail because they essentially will work for free and they're very enthusiastic about Paul."
In other Paul observations, The Christian Science Monitor notes that Paul's electoral magic will need to come from reaching outside Republican Party voters, noting he is currently beating Obama in a one-on-one among independent voters. Paul fans have a concerted effort dubbed "Blue Republican," encouraging those not currently GOP voters to do what needs to be done in their respective states to vote for Paul in the primaries.
Paul continues to crush all comers in the Conservative HQ straw poll, at 56 percent and rising. (Yes, it's easier to win an Internet straw poll than an election.)
Gail Collins at the New York Times, reportedly a prominent news source, while trying to make fun of Paul sums up why his fans love him:
He also doesn't believe in, well, let's see: gun control, the death penalty, the C.I.A., the Civil Rights Act, prosecuting flag-burners, hate crime legislation, foreign aid, the military draft under any circumstances, campaign finance reform, the war on drugs, the war on terror and the war on porn. Also the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. Taxes are theft. While his fellow Republican candidates fume about gay marriage, Paul thinks the government should get out of the business of issuing marriage licenses entirely. ("In a free society, something that we do not truly enjoy, all voluntary and consensual agreements would be recognized.")
Although Steven Greenhut earlier today on Reason Online takes seriously claims that Paul's campaign "might not have a good ground game going," that belief seems unfounded: how can the campaign which the largest percentage of likely caucus voters in Iowa have heard from, and who came within a percentage point of winning the Ames Straw Poll in August (which involved getting over 4,600 in-state voters to actually show up for an all-day event) without a free Randy Travis concert, be said to lack ground game in Iowa?