What if Ron Paul wins Iowa – and New Hampshire, too?
Some say a Ron Paul victory in Iowa would damage the reputation of the caucuses as favoring fringe candidates. But that would change if the momentum helps Paul win in New Hampshire, too.
Ron Paul is surging in Iowa. In polls of Hawkeye State Republican voters, Rep. Paul has jumped from about 12 percent support on Dec. 12 to 21.7 percent support today, according to the RealClearPolitics rolling average. With Newt Gingrich’s Iowa support collapsing, Paul is suddenly the GOP frontrunner there – and the caucuses are only two weeks away.Skip to next paragraph
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As Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post notes in her “Right Turn” blog, there is now a distinct possibility that Paul will win in Iowa. He’s got both the poll lead and “a ground game with energized followers that is likely to produce results on caucus night,” Ms. Rubin writes.
A Paul victory would burst Mr. Gingrich's bubble, help Mitt Romney by dividing the anti-Romney forces, and make Iowa the object of derision from many Republicans elsewhere, according to Rubin.
She’s not alone in saying a Paul win would hurt the caucuses themselves. Paul poses “an existential threat” to Iowa’s cherished first-in-the-nation status, write Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns in Politico, because he has little chance of winning the GOP nomination. A victory for the Texas libertarian would indicate that the caucuses reward candidates “who are unrepresentative of the broader party,” the pair write.
Hmmm, OK. But what would happen if Paul wins Iowa – and wins the New Hampshire primary, too? Wouldn’t that flip this criticism on its head, and show that Paul is at least as representative of the GOP as, say, Michelle Bachmann and/or Gingrich?
We make this point because winning in Iowa changes how a candidate is perceived in New Hampshire. A victory would boost Paul in the Granite State – and he’s not doing too badly there already.
Right now Paul is third in New Hampshire, at 16.5 percent in the RealClearPolitics average, and rising. He appears to be benefiting from Gingrich’s slippage in the state.