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How Ron Paul Could Win Iowa Caucuses -- and Screw Up Everything

Should Ron Paul win the first-in-the-nation presidential contest, the pundits will have egg on their faces, and Paul will have an interesting path in front of him.
 
 
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In the week before Christmas, the elfin creatures of the world are said to be very, very busy, hammering out toys for all the good girls and boys. At least one, however, is busy plotting his revenge -- revenge on the media, whose smarty-pants talkers regard him as a curiosity; on the Republican Party, whose establishment has long dismissed him as a crank; on the president of the United States, who, as an African American, has the audacity to lead a nation in which he shouldn't even have  the right to sit at a lunch counter .

This industrious fellow, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is planning to win the Iowa caucuses, the January 3 opening round of the GOP presidential primary season, just as the nation settles into its post-holiday doldrums. And from the way it looks now, he'll probably do just that.

Follow the Bursting Bubble

Barely over a week ago, conventional wisdom-peddlers were shifting their bets from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Ga., as polls showed the bombastic bomb-thrower surging. But bubbles have a tendency to burst, as Gingrich himself surely knows, having collected $1.6 million for his historical advice to bubble king Freddie Mac, the federally sponsored mortgage giant whose executives were charged with fraud last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission for their role in creating the spectacular bursting orb that brought down the global economy. Since his peak polling in Iowa last week at 27 percent, according to Public Policy Polling (some polls had him as high as 33 percent), Gingrich lost 13 points, leading PPP analysts to describe his campaign, with its current 14 percent share and high unfavorability ratings, as “ imploding.” (Just as we predicted during the Newt bubble's peak.)

Taking Gingrich's first-place slot is Ron Paul, with 23 percent of likely caucus-goers saying they'll cast their vote for a man who once struggled to get debate moderators to give him questions.

The Pied Piper

As the media found themselves dazzled by the Gingrich who threatened to steal Christmas from the presumably anointed Romney last week, they paid little mind to the sounds of hammering emanating from a virtual workshop on the Iowa plains. There, Ron Paul had been gathering thousands of sock-hatted junior elves from college campuses, helpers enraptured by the magic of a proposed foreign policy that promised no more wars (not even a war on drugs), along with an economic policy that pledge the banishment of a government Voldemort called the Fed, and the paving of a yellow-brick road with gold-backed currency, lined with sticky stalks of Acapulco Gold.

On the very weekend of the short-lived Gingrich groundswell, the Des Moines Register reported that Paul's events were drawing the largest crowds among the candidates' confabs -- events that, by my estimation, are likely filled with people who do not even register in polls, as their profiles do not comport with those typical of the polling category, “likely caucus-goers.” While PPP tried to get at those folks, it's a tough demographic to measure with any accuracy.

In Iowa, all it takes to cast a ballot in your local GOP caucus is to be a registered voter. You can show up at the caucus and declare yourself to be a Republican right there and then -- whether you've identified in the past as an independent, or you voted in the Democratic caucus in 2008. Even if, as an enthusiastic first-time voter, you voted for, say, Barack Obama way back then. It's no secret that those who pulled the lever for Barack Obama in their first-ever presidential election are pretty disillusioned right now, especially over the administration's foreign policy.

 
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