Paul More Electable than Gingrich? Than Romney??

Ron Paul is a much better general election candidate against Obama than either Gingrich or Romney in Iowa, and in New Hampshire Paul comes fairly close to Romney against Obama. That’s one surprising takeaway from a just-released Marist poll for NBC News of Iowa and New Hampshire voters (pdf here). Marist is a high-quality polling outlet, so their numbers deserve to be taken seriously. Here are the stats:


Gingrich 37%, Obama 47%

Romney 39%, Obama 46%

Paul 42%, Obama 42%

New Hampshire

Gingrich 39%, Obama 49%

Romney 46%, Obama 43%

Paul 42%, Obama 44%

In Iowa, a Democratic-leaning state at the presidential level, only Paul seems to have any chance against Obama. Indeed, his numbers in favor are larger than those for Gingrich or Romney (the latter difference might not quite be statistically significant), indicating that his relative strength against the incumbent is not simply due to lack of name recognition.

In New Hampshire, the well-known, local Romney does better than Paul, but Paul gets within the margin of error against Obama.

Marist also surveyed likely caucus and primary voters in the two states. The New Hampshire line looks like this: Romney 39, Gingrich 23, Paul 16, Huntsman 9, Perry 3, Bachmann 3, Cain 2, Santorum 1. Cain’s exit will have little impact on this race, and my guess is that Huntsman and Paul are to some degree competing for the same pool of voters. Iowa looks like this: Gingrich 26, Romney 18, Paul 17, Perry 9, Cain 9, Bachmann 5, Santorum 5, Huntsman 2. Cain’s dropping out is unlikely to benefit Romney, so Paul looks set for second place in the next poll here.

Are pundits underestimating the extent to which some voters want to send a message about no more wars, bailouts, or assaults on constitutional liberties, even if it means voting for a “radical” candidate?

14 thoughts on “Paul More Electable than Gingrich? Than Romney??

  1. Ron Paul’s weakness is this: the more voters know about all his positions, the less likely that they’ll vote for him.

    It’s true that I don’t have hard data to back this up, but what would happen if all the GOP primary voters or (especially) Iowa caucus participants heard his “heroin” answer in the FoxNews SC debate? Could a plurality of voters really vote for a guy who wanted to end the Federal War on Drugs against heroin? Although ending the War on Drugs != to endorsing heroin, the American People™ can’t tell the difference.

    1. I’ve long thought the same about Paul, but as his popularity among independents continues, I’m starting to reassess that view. After all, Paul has been running for president since 2007, and his name recognition is near-universal. I suspect few voters would be surprised to be told that he wants to end the federal role in lots of things. It could be that voters think that he has no chance of ending the War on Drugs even if elected, but that he would be in a position to end the wars, stop things like indefinite military detention, and audit the Fed – and those are things no other candidate can credibly promise to do.

    2. I am sorry fallibilist, but you have misunderstood Ron Paul’s position on drugs. Ron Paul promoted the states rights to regulate controlled substances, and instead of having an all encompassing Federal law that makes drugs illegal, pass it on to the states. This has already been a major issue when talking about Medicinal Marijuana. The states have caught up and understand the medicinal benefit of using marijuana, but there is too much lobbying and special interests involved when trying to change a law at the federal level. This has severely hampered both the research and distribution of medical marijuana.

      That being said, if Ron Paul were elected and repealed the war on drugs at the Federal level, I am fairly certain the states would each move to outlaw the “hard drugs” such as heroin and crack cocaine. As for the soft drugs, I would expect a referendum to be held in which the people can decide what to do. Since a Gallup poll was released recently that showed over 50% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, I am predicting marijuana will become legal. As for all other drugs, I think Cocaine is the second highest in the polls at a whopping 8%.

      Moral of the story – don’t expect all drugs to be legalized under a Paul presidency. I predict Marijuana will be legalized and regulated like alcohol, all while we save money on law enforcement and bring in billions in tax revenue. Marijuana is already California’s number one cash crop; beating out corn and wheat.

      1. Hi mr. rager,

        I think we’re talking past each other.

        I’m well aware that Ron Paul believes that drug policy should be handled at the state level. If every state wanted to DOUBLE drug war expenditures and penalties Ron Paul as a “Constitutional Conservative” would have no problem with that. I get it!

        What I was talking about was what the American People™ would perceive to be his position after an onslaught of rumors and attack ads and, worst of all, the unbearably glib treatment it would get from the mainstream media. Some positions take more than 7 seconds to fully explain. Too bad that’s what the media allows voters to hear.

        I’d love to be wrong. I think Ron Paul’s positions are head-and-shoulders above all the other candidates in the GOP race, with the possible exception of Gary Johnson.


    3. Interesting theory, but you’re right that the data doesn’t back it up. Instead, Paul is doing best where he has had the MOST exposure (i.e. the early states). If anything, this indicates the exact opposite: that is, people are initially put off by Paul (whether based on fair initial assessment or based on the media’s presentation of him) but are more likely to support him when he’s had a few months to explain his uncommonly nuanced opinions…

      That’s my take, anyway.

  2. Good. He shouldn’t compromise his principles just because the American people are perceived to be to stupid to follow them. He should educate people, and get them talking and debating these ideas themselves. If he had more press time with a variety of networks maybe America would even have a chance to hear him say a few things that would wake them out of their nightmarish delusion. Of course, that wouldn’t really serve the interests of the…okay, I won’t say it, but let ‘the beneficiaries of subsidized, government-protected corporatism’ suffice.

    Also, while fallibilist has an interesting point, I wonder if the fact that everyone has one thing they don’t agree with Ron Paul over could turn into his advantage? I mean, at least there’s only ONE thing. Most people have a few beefs with Obama, and more than a few with these other candidates.

  3. Every great thinker who attempts to shift the paradigm of contemporary thought is derided in his own era. They are all, to a man, before their time.

    True genius is seen as lunacy by small minds who do not want to be challenged.

    This is the ssesnce of why Ron Paul is ignored, marginalized, and attacked.

  4. There are whole states where very large minorities favor an end to prohibition. The “stupidity” of the American people is greatly exaggerated – especially by those who would like to rule them. This includes a majority of journalists. As a group, journalists profess to know more than the “masses” – that is the basic premise of their profession. And those who know more are usually sympathetic to those who rule since rulers profess to know more as well. Together rulers and journalists pretend to know what is best for all, but end up discovering and implementing only what is best for rulers and journalists.

    Many people outside these arrogant professions understand that their bodies don’t belong to the great collective and that victimless crimes, asset forfeiture, and zero tolerance are obscene concepts and viciously destructive of human rights.

  5. fallibilist, Absolutely. The more I learned about Dr. Paul’s positions (beyond knee-jerk sound bites) the more I was swayed in his favor. A deeper understanding is the key. (Nevermind the oft-dismissed Constitutional fidelity of his positions!)

    Lifelong Conservative Republican here. Dr. Paul swayed me on the drug issue and it wasn’t that difficult to “make the connection” that when an effort to solve a problem, not only isn’t working, but in fact is exacerbating the problem on several levels, it is not that hard to see that a new approach is needed. His use of the Heroin comment was for the purpose of illuminating just how ridiculous it is to link “decriminalization” not only to “condoning” it’s use, but “encouraging” its use. It is as ridiculous as he attempted to point out with the example.
    As a completely side issue, our own soldiers who have been interviewed on several major news network, CNN, Fox, etc, recognize the moral quandary of aiding and defending the production of Heroin raw material in Afghanistan because “afghans have nothing else” of such value they can produce? This makes it Ok to participate in? This makes the rest of us crazy in accepting, not Dr. Paul for opposing it.

    When you think about how incredible it is, that a man who sends his son to serve his country in Afghanistan can be thrown in prison for use of the very drug his son is helping to cultivate overseas, in the service of his country, it is VERY EASY to recognize how disastrously we have strayed from reason. It is easy to see that we need to get out of the business of “playing both sides of the table” and generally abandoning the “high road” that used to define American policy.

    Decriminalization does not “condone” the use of drugs. Decriminalization simply recognizes hypocrisy, moral hazard, and most importantly, the need to tackle this problem with another approach allowing for a measure of success. (and honestly, no one could successfully argue that Marijuana for example, causes even a tiny fraction of the death and destruction than alcohol does).

    Full disclosure: I am against the use of ANY drug recreationally (and frankly, reluctant to even take any when prescribed 🙂

  6. I just don’t understand the objection to Paul’s “heroin” answer. Maybe I could remind people of what it was: are you so weak that unless you have a policeman threatening you with a gun, you would haplessly rush out to overdose on heroin as soon as you woke up?

    I am truly sorry for those who cannot refrain from drugging themselves unless the government forbids them…I am glad I am not such a person. Maybe some work on learning self restraint and responsibility would help you?

    1. IMHO – NA Would help you if you are such a person as David mentions– as I was such a person only three years ago.
      Everything I practice in my spiritual program of recovery goes along beautifully with everything Doctor Paul says. The fellowships are true voluntaryist societies with an emphasis on personal responsibility and the care of a loving higher power. Not of course to be a representative opinion of all of NA, as I am just one addict among many from various backgrounds who have chosen a life of possibility over the slavery of instant gratification and self obsession. But for this addict- I know in my heart that legalization of ALL drugs is the only humane thing to do. Having met thousands of addicts of all walks of life, I feel that to continue to cage, shame and dehumanize individuals who suffer from an obsessive compulsive disease is immensely counter-productive. I remember hating myself– wanting nothing more than to not use– to not hurt myself or my family– but to have the overwhelming urge to use.. to be consumed by a great fear that if you don’t use, you can’t possibly cope with life.. that without a drug or a drink, I couldn’t function- I couldn’t smile, I couldn’t work— For years I struggled with a complete inability to cope without chemicals until it had entirely destroyed and many times almost ended my life. People who think they can get an addict to stop using by throwing them in a cage should look into starting such recovery programs for people who suffer from OCD- by that logic, if one were to throw a patient with OCD in jail- take away his license – and fine him every time he tried to make his socks perfectly straight or cleaned his house a little too much for the average person.. then well- he’d be cured, right? Why would you want to be OCD if you risk going to jail.
      Here’s the tip- addicts don’t want to be addicts any more than ppl with OCD want to be OCD. Throwing us in jail for acting out on our compulsions isn’t exactly part of the healing process.
      Here are is a quick summary of why drugs should be legal:
      (1) It is easier for a minor to obtain pot, cocaine, and heroin than it is to obtain controlled substances such as alcohol and tobaccco.
      (2) Gangs fight over drugs and guns- the guns are to protect their drug turf. If the drugs are for sale at the corner store… what are the gangs going to fight over?
      (3) More people die of drug overdoses from substances that are not what they are purported to be than not. Regulation of drugs would prevent the accidental overdoses of millions- whether they are a dumb kid experimenting for the first time, or a semi-functional daily user.
      (4) The free market value of drugs would be much lower — meaning an addict who manages to function at least as well as your average alcoholic who pays the bills, goes to work and doesn’t beat the kids and wife– would be able to maintain a habit without turning to crime and thievery. Such people do not deserve to be treated as thieves- violent criminals – or delinquents
      (5) Some of the biggest arguments for keeping drugs illegal are the fact that addicts are many times violent, criminals, or may cause addicts… but there are already laws on the books to deal with violence, driving intoxicated, and stealing. Why punish good, non-violent, non criminal, responsible drug users (and yes, while I as a recovering addict am incapable of being such a person– but they DO exist)
      (6) The drug war makes being a criminal profitable.

  7. America is in deep,deep trouble. More than most people realize. Not only economic and fiscal trouble but the thin veneer of civility and human rights is peeling off at an accelerated pace. America is morphing into a fascist police state. This is obvious to any neutral observer, Electing Ron Paul will not stop the decline of America,but,it is a gigantic step in the right direction, to slow down and reverse the course that America is heading in. I’ve been an observer and a participant in the American political scene for over 50 years. I’ve seen politicians come and go over the years. Without a doubt Ron Paul is special. He’s really one of the few if not the only major politician who has any integrity in his soul. He has more knowledge of economics in his right pinkie finger than all of the other candidates, including Mr.Obama, have in their collective brains. I can only hope that most Americans will see in Ron Paul what I have seen and will give him their votes in the upcoming political year. It really is Americas last chance.

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