Ron Paul Marches on in Iowa, New Hampshire, Doing Best Ever in National Polls


Ron Paul's unexpected rise in electoral fortunes continues apace. Some of the latest:

*Paul hits over 17 in one national poll of over 1,000 national likely GOP caucus/primary voters, with Iowa and New Hampshire oversampled, highest ever for him nationally as far as I know.

*Paul's Iowa appearances getting too big for the traditional Pizza Ranches:

Paul held eight town hall meetings this week in eastern Iowa, each drawing crowds ranging from between 150 in Manchester to 800 in Bettendorf. None of the events were booked at any of the state's 71 Pizza Ranch restaurants—sites which routinely play host to other GOP candidates.

"The crowds have just been incredible," [Paul's Iowa campaign co-chair David] Fischer said. "There's a lot of undecided voters who are curious about Ron Paul coming to these events."

The libertarian-leaning politician has also seen his base of supporters increase over the past month, Fischer added

"It's blue collar, it's independent-thinking folks, you even get some Democrats in there," he said, adding that business owners, Christians and families that home school their children have also attended Paul events. "There's just a huge variety of people interested in this message, and that tells you the power of the message."

*Detailed reporting on Paul supporters in Iowa from Des Moines Register. Highlights:

Don't tell Matt Winter that Ron Paul's surge in Iowa is bad for the state's cherished Republican caucuses.

"Whether or not you agree with Ron Paul, the fact that he's able to get out and connect with voters and get them to come and support him — that's really what the caucuses are supposed to be about," said Winter, an independent voter who heard Paul speak here last week and is considering voting for him. "He has an amazing organization, no question. … They're out there giving out signs, signing people up, following up with supporters, and it's paying off."….

Paul probably would have a harder time making a splash if Iowa had a primary, [Becky Beach, a former Bush fundraiser] said. A primary draws a larger turnout in through-the-day voting than a caucus, which requires participants to meet at a specified point and commit an hour or more of their time.

Paul has attracted some of the largest Iowa crowds seen by any candidate this year. Last week, he drew more than 200 to town-hall meetings in Maquoketa and Washington, and he has drawn throngs on college campuses, including more than 1,300 at both the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.

Some skeptics have doubted that the young people who plump up his crowds will show up for him on caucus night.

Kim Pearson, a Republican state representative from Pleasant Hill who supports Paul, said some critics try to dismiss his young followers by saying their support is based mainly on Paul's opposition to federal anti-marijuana laws.

"I think that really is a slap at the younger generation," she said, adding that many young people are worried about having to pay off spiraling government debt.

Pearson said Paul is holding true to traditional Republican values, including that any wars should be approved by Congress, as the Constitution requires. Some party leaders are trying to paint him as radical because they're afraid of him, said Pearson, who identifies with the tea party wing of the GOP…..

Paul, himself a veteran, brags that no other candidate receives as many donations from members of the military.

Micah Stolba of Cedar Rapids, who held a "Veterans for Ron Paul" sign during the candidate's Washington town hall, said Paul's foreign policy is the reason.

Paul has promised to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas military bases. He would also abolish foreign aid as president, but has said he will engage other nations through diplomacy and free trade.

"What he says makes sense. People in the military, especially, they have to think about our foreign relations with countries," said Stolba, 32, who recently finished a three-year stint in the Army…..

If any establishment Republicans are trying to comfort themselves by believing that Paul's support in polls will melt away on caucus night, they should consider this: In the Register's final Iowa Poll before the 2008 Republican caucuses, 9 percent of people who planned to caucus said they favored Paul. In the actual caucuses, he was backed by 10 percent of voters…..

Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition and a member of the Republican National Committee, said Paul has worked hard in Iowa, the way tradition says candidates should.

"The bottom line is, the people who can have the best organization and turn their people out deserve to come in whatever spot they come in on caucus night," he said.

*Bad weather in Iowa on the 3rd will be good for Ron Paul.

*Romney's still leading in New Hampshire, but Paul is rising faster than Gingrich:

Mr. Paul had 12 percent of the votes in a Boston Globe poll of New Hampshire voters in November, but has since climbed 5 percentage points to 17 percent of the votes. Mr. Gingrich, who was ahead of Mr. Paul in November, has seen his support rise by only 2 percentage points.

*Study up on how the Iowa caucus process actually works.

*What Paul is up against: Politico's Roger Simon boldly states on MSNBC that if Paul wins Iowa, "we just take it out" of discussion or consideration:

*In the difficult but important minutia of how this system actually works–not as simple as just racking up statewide votes on primary and caucus days–see this long analysis of how the GOP establishment is ready for a brokered convention if, as is more likely this time given the new propotional delegate allocation for most pre-April 1 primaries, no one goes in a clear winner. This is of course an opportunity for a miracle for outsiders like Ron Paul, under certain imaginable circumstances. It's complicated, read this article.

*GOP pollster Frank Luntz on C-SPAN says Paul will win Iowa, adding that Paul has "a greater organization than any candidate in American politics today."

*Daily Caller with the unedited footage shows: Ron Paul never did storm out of any CNN interview.

*Also in Daily Caller, me, Brian Doherty, doing a 20 minute podcast late last week on matters Paulian. If you don't mind waiting four and half months for the package to arrive, you can pre-order my forthcoming book about Paul now.