As a Ron Paul supporter who’s watching net news with bated breath, I’ve noticed that the good doctor’s supporters seem to be rather distrusting of polls. The reasons range from criticisms of questionable statistical practices (e.g., land lines vs. mobile lines and so-called “likely voters”) to conspiracy theories. Having finally looked at some aggregated poll results, though, I think it’s time the Paulites start caring about polls.
Check out Pollster.com and you’ll see a number of charts showing aggregate poll trends. Among them, you’ll see a chart showing a finishing order and percentages for the Iowa GOP caucus that agree quite well with the actual precinct reports. Looking at the same chart, I also see that Dr. Paul’s popularity grew at a slow and steady quadratic rate. Meanwhile, Romney and Huckabee seem to have had some PR troubles leading up to the caucus, as McCain and Thompson saw an upswing in their popularity. Not much can be said about Giuliani’s tanking popularity in Iowa, since he didn’t even bother to campaign there. These developments should be encouraging to Paulites, because they seem to indicate that our candidate is largely insulated from conflicts between the other candidates.
Now, let’s move on to New Hampshire, where the first primary will be held. McCain has made a strong comeback there, but Huckabee’s win in Iowa might add momentum to popularity ratings that were already on the rise. Again, Thomspon (aka Prince Valium) is receding back into the political obscurity he came from. Romney seems to have run into the same PR snag he hit in Iowa, suggesting that he’s vulnerable. Giuliani’s strategy of ignoring the early, more conservative states is having the expected disgruntling effect on New Hampshire voters. Somewhat disconcerting to me is Dr. Paul’s plateauing popularity. Were his numbers more like Romney’s, I might worry less. At this stage of the game, though, he can’t afford to lose momentum.
What about national polls, you may ask. Well, the picture is even less comforting there, though there is reason for hope. Giuliani’s campaign strategy is either deeply flawed, or will kick into high gear too close to Super Duper Tuesday to see it working right now. His national popularity, following the early state trends, is taking a nose dive. Sleepy Thompson is going back into hibernation while Romney enjoys a steady rise and Huckabee shoots for the stars. How long Huckleberry will be able to keep it up, I don’t know. We can only hope he continues to make stupid comments of Dubya proportion. McCain’s slide has leveled out and he may be on the verge of a national resurgence. So, the good news is that Hunter is off the radar, Thompson seems to be following him, and Giuliani is finding that more and more people are realizing what a jackass he is. Huckabee’s popularity is soaring, but Romney’s slow and steady gains may win out if folks start to realize that the Huckster is all style and no substance. Then again, so is Romney.
In my humble opinion, the only remotely respectable man running for GOP nomination, other than Paul, is McCain. If Huck and Rom can pummel each other into irrelevance, and Giuliani can continue to be his own worst enemy, Ron Paul might have a shot at going toe to toe with John McCain. Character and integrity wouldn’t separate them enough to make much difference, so it would come down to policies. I think Paul could win people over with his policies. But I digress.
So where does that leave Ron Paul’s campaign? Well, things aren’t looking too good. His national popularity is at best plateauing and at worst declining. He needs very badly to do well in the next few states. This is why we Paulites need to care about polls. Dr. Paul has a chance to build some early momentum to raise the nation’s awareness of him and his ideas. The success of the entire campaign may depend on what happens in New Hampshire, Wyoming, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, Louisiana, Hawaii, Florida, and Maine. We can’t just claim polls are unreliable and ignore what they tell us. The polls modeled the Iowa caucus well, and I suspect the other state and national polls, taken in aggregate, are also fairly reliable.
What these polls show us about Ron Paul’s popularity should motivate us to act, and we ignore them at our campaign’s peril. The good doctor’s campaign is in need of immediate attention and a major injection of funds. If you haven’t done so already, get involved with your local Ron Paul meetup. Tell your friends about Ron Paul. Given them informational slim jims and DVDs. Lastly, it would be nice if money didn’t make the world go round, but it does, and the Paul campaign needs money to reach the millions of disenfranchised voters who’d flock to him if only they knew he is. Please, for liberty’s sake, consider making a donation. No amount is too small. If we each do our part to promote the causes of liberty and small government, and pay attention to how we affect state and national poll numbers, we might yet beat the system.