A new poll puts Ron Paul just one percentage point behind Newt Gingrich in Iowa, and a full five points ahead of Mitt Romney, suggesting that Paul could be on the verge of creating a significant upset in the Republican presidential race.
Paul’s supporters have long expressed quiet confidence that their candidate can do much better in the votes than the mainstream media has previously acknowledged. And in the build-up to the start of the crucial primary season, there are signs that they might be right.
The appeal of Ron Paul to voters seems to be due to a combination of factors. For one thing, he is one of the few Republican candidates to espouse a genuine libertarian political philosophy (for example, see his recent criticism of National Defense Authorization Act). For another, he has so far suffered none of the embarrassing foot-in-mouth moments that have plagued his rivals for the GOP nomination.
The other strong point for Ron Paul heading into 2012 is his popularity with younger voters. Ironically, the oldest candidate in the GOP field seems to be picking up strong support among those who are wary of the rest of the Republican field but who still want to vote Republican in 2012. For some, Paul is the only ‘real’ Republican in the race.
Whether or not Ron Paul can keep this momentum up, his success is a sign that there is an appetite for change in American politics. Many people appear to be sick of the traditional battle between Republicans and Democrats, with neither party seeming able to deviate far from the traditional Washington script. Agree with him or not, Ron Paul’s success hints that real change could be an appealing prospect for millions of Americans.