Ron Paul gaining ground in early primary states

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)

Online Staff Report

Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, appears to be gaining ground in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Paul told reporters in New Hampshire Dec. 14: “The momentum is building up and a lot of the candidates so far would come and go. They would shoot to the top and drop back rapidly. Ours has been very steady growth, then in this last week or two, there has been a sudden extra growth. In political terms, it probably means we’re peaking at the right time.”

In Iowa, a Dec. 13 Rasmussen Reports poll showed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 23 percent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at 20 percent and Paul at 18 percent. A Dec. 12 Insider Advantage poll in Iowa showed Gingrich at 27 percent, Paul at 17 percent and Romney at 12 percent. And a Dec. 11-13 Public Policy Polling poll in Iowa showed Gingrich at 22 percent, Paul at 21 percent and Romney at 16 percent.

Paul, 76, has been attracting the largest crowds in Iowa this month, and when coupled with recent poll numbers, a Paul victory in Iowa does not seem too far-fetched.

Iowa’s Jan. 3, 2012, caucuses are the first test in the primary election season. Although followed closely by the media and central to determining which candidates remain in the race, George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008 were the only non-incumbent candidates to win their party’s caucus and go on to win the general election. Neither Ronald Reagan nor Bill Clinton won in Iowa prior to their first terms.

Some have suggested a Paul victory in Iowa would deliver a severe blow to Gingrich’s campaign, as Romney is expected to win the next primary of the season, the Jan. 10, 2012, New Hampshire primary.

In New Hampshire, a Dec. 12 Rasmussen Reports poll had Romney at 33 percent, Gingrich at 22 percent and Paul at 18 percent. A Dec. 12 Insider Advantage New Hampshire poll had Romney at 29 percent, Gingrich at 24 percent and Paul at 21 percent.

Paul, who favors a limited government, is making his third attempt at the presidency. He first ran as a Libertarian in 1988, then as a Republican in 2008. In the 2008 primary, Paul failed to win a single state, but finished second in 10 states and third in 17 states.

The retired physician has served in Congress three different periods for a total of 12 two-year terms: 1976 to 1977, 1979 to 1985 and 1997 to present. He has said he will not run as an independent in the 2012 general election if he fails to gain the Republican nomination.

All national polls show Paul at 8 to 12 percent, in third place behind Gingrich and Romney. The most recent national Gallup Tracking poll, for the period Dec. 10-14, shows Gingrich at 29 percent; Romney at 24 percent; Paul at 10 percent; U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., at 7 percent; Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 5 percent; former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., at 4 percent; and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 2 percent.

The early primary election season is as follows by state:

Jan. 3, 2012 — Iowa;

Jan. 10, 2012 — New Hampshire;

Jan. 21, 2012 — South Carolina; and

Jan. 31, 2012 — Florida.

Illinois’ primaries are scheduled for March 20, 2012.

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