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01/04/2012

A 'big loss' and 'poor showing' for Paul? Yeah, NOM?

by Jeremy Hooper

One can call Ron Paul a number of things. Doctor. Congressman. unfortunate newspaper articles. Septuagenarian.

One thing you cannot rightly say about Ron Paul, a onetime long shot candidate who took a close third place (behind Santorum and Romney's virtual tie), is that he had a terrible Iowa caucus night. Sure, he and his supporters would have probably liked to come out of the state in the number one slot. But for a libertarian-leaning candidate so outside the GOP establishment to show so highly in the often conservative Iowa caucus? It's the kind of thing that has taken Congressman Paul off of the fringe and put him within the realm of consideration for the first time in his fairly long presidential primary career.

But leave it to NOM to completely spin last night's results so as to aggrandize their own work. This is how Brian Brown assesses Paul's showing:

"Paul suffered a big loss by finishing third in Iowa, a state he was expecting to win. NOM aired television and online ads that were highly critical of Paul’s unacceptable stance on marriage, including his belief that civil marriage should be abolished altogether. No doubt our ads, along with tens of thousands of telephone calls and grassroots work with our thousands of supporters in Iowa were a factor in Ron Paul’s poor showing. We will continue to point out Paul’s unacceptable views on marriage to voters in upcoming states.” [SOURCE]

Okay, just for some historical context: John McCain, the eventual nominee, finished fourth in the 2008 Iowa caucus. Ron Paul finished fifth in that year, with less than 12k votes. This year, Paul more than doubled his '08 number, taking in 26,219. That's quite a bit more.

Secondly, entrance polls from last night showe evangelical voters -- the ones who most obviously oppose same-sex marriage -- as backing Congressman Paul at a stronger clip than any candidate other than Rick Santorum. Edison Research found three out of ten evangelicals breaking for Santorum (which seems kind of low frankly), with 20% breaking for Paul (which seems kind of high). All others -- including far-right darlings like Bachmann and Perry -- were behind. So if NOM was trying to pick off those most concerned with same-sex marriage -- which, again, would be evangelicals by almost anyone's admission -- then those voters seem to all avoided the entrance pollsters. That seems unlikely.

By any measure, it is simply absurd to say that Ron Paul had a "poor showing" or "big loss." Love him or hate him, he now has attention. In the two debates between now and New Hampshire, the Congressman is going to get much more focus. The media attention is now undeniable. Republican voters have no choice but to look at the guy. This is no longer true of Bachmann or Perry, who both signed NOM's ridiculous marriage pledge. Things also seem to be growing desperate for Gingrich, another NOM pledge signer, who finished a whopping ten thousand votes behind Paul. But the Congressman -- the lone GOP candidate to resist NOM's truly chilling pledge -- is still very much in this game. And one thing we all know about Paul, his supporters, and his wherewithal is that this campaign is going to tough it out until there really is no other option.

This reality very much scares the far-right NOM, understandably. But their spin doesn't mask that fear. To me, it puts it in much greater focus.

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