The Republicans have made an active campaign out of trying to freeze out Ron Paul. Little exposure at debates. Phone polls (such as one my mother received and told me about) asking which Republican candidate she would vote for and mentioning everybody but Paul. I got one -- they even mentioned Huntsman, but not Paul.
But Paul's grass roots organizations have never given up. They've kept up the pressure, kept talking about their candidate. My dad, last time I talked politics with him, said Paul isn't viable. He doesn't even see him on the news while all the other candidates are touring the country and trying to drum up support. (Then he bitches that there are no candidates worth supporting and, as much as he thinks third parties are a waste of votes, he would love to see a third party. Make up your mind, dude.)
Newt Gingrich surged in the polls because of Herman Cain dropping out of the race. But now, Gingrich's support is slipping and slipping fast. His decline is faster than any other than Michelle Bachmann.
Guess who is currently leading the polls going into the Iowa primary?
Gingrich went from 27% to 14% in three weeks, putting him in third behind Mitt Romney (who didn't get much of a boost from the Des Moines Register endorsing him this weekend). Three weeks. And that includes his debate performance that every establishment media type was praising as masterful. His favorability rating is 46 for to 47 against. The only candidate doing worse is Jon Huntsman. Gingrich recently took a vow of fidelity for the fourth time. Guess it didn't work so well. Part of the problem might be Gingrich and the whole "ethics" thing. When asked if they thought Gingrich had strong principals, only 36% said yes. (For the curious, Paul scored 73%.)
It's going to be a long, protracted campaign, kids. Believe it or not, President Obama does NOT want this. He doesn't want this because he knows what will happen -- the same thing that happened to him. When the D's first started campaigning for 2008, everyone assumed Hillary Clinton was going to get the nomination. Then Obama threw his hat in the ring. No clear winner emerged, it was a political taffy pull.
If you want to see what this means, look at the voter registration records during this period. Conventional wisdom said that, the longer a primary campaign goes on, the weaker a candidate is because supporters drift away in frustration. In actuality, voter registration INCREASED the longer the primary campaigns went on. The reason was everyone wanted to see their candidate win. They mobilized. They spread the word. They made history. THEY REWROTE POLITICAL SCIENCE.
Obama is sitting on a margin of victory against Gingrich. Why? Because it's an easy choice to make. Much as I decry the Chicago Way White House, given a choice between Obama and Gingrich or Obama and Romney, I'll vote Obama, too. But as Paul's supporters continue to build, other candidates who realize they are within striking distance of their goal will mobilize their supporters, too. You'll see an increase in Republican voters in the primaries. And people who vote in primaries are far more likely to vote in general elections. Obama is seeing a lot of his support from the Generation Y crowd erode. They wanted hope and change. They are seeing pretty much the same establishment politics they always saw. And instead of channeling that energy into either A) a candidate that will represent them or B) telling Obama, "Do something! It's what we pay you for!", they are opting to sit out the election. Obama got into Washington because voters didn't want a continuation of the previous Presidency. That sentiment is now working against him.
The four candidates still shoving each other around will not quit. If anyone drops out early, it will probably be Gingrich, but not until some primaries are done. My money is on ten. Perry will be out a short time after that, when he sees his aloofness is an Achilles' Heel (see Fred Thompson, Mario Cuomo, Rudy Giuliani, Dennis Kucinich, etc.) and he doesn't get any solid momentum going -- after all, if he can't be bothered to take his campaign seriously, why should we? If Paul actually wins Iowa and finishes second or better in NH, then him, Perry, and Romney will stay in the running as long as possible, Romney because he wants it and Perry because he figures he can swoop in like a camper in a "capture the flag" match.
Crap. I need to stock up on popcorn.