I would like to start by saying this is not a joke.
I have been looking at the data and Ron Paul may actually be the next GOP Nominee. My money would be on Romney, but Ron Paul has alot going for him. First, his poll numbers are actually better this year than last. Second, his competition is much weaker. Third, he appears to have a real campaign organization. Finally, he will be financially compeditive. Last time around, Paul raised about $35 million, including $5 million in Q3. This year, he has raised just over $12 million, including over $8 million in Q3. This suggests that he is raising money at a greater pace than last year, and is 3rd (behind Romney and Perry) in money raised. Here is how he could win:
1. Paul placed a close second in the Iowa Straw Poll, and is polling at around 20% in Iowa; about the same as Romney and Gingrich. Ahead of Perry and Cain. Paul has a viable chance to win Iowa, and a win in Iowa would be huge for Paul. It would represent making him a viable candidate in the eyes of NH primary voters; and would raise him significant money.
2. Paul is currently 2nd in NH; where he is well behind Romney. If Paul wins in Iowa, he will go into NH with momentum and with money. NH is a strong state for Romney and one where Romney won 32% of the vote for last time around. It is possible, but unlikely that Paul could follow-up an Iowa win with a win in NH.
3. If Paul manages to win Iowa and NH, there would be a 2-fold momentum factor. First in support of Paul, and second as a huge loss for Romney. Romney's entire campaign is based on a win in NH. If Romney were to lose NH the effect would be the same as 4 years ago. His campaign would fizzle. Even though he looks better possitioned in every state following NH than Paul; were he to lose NH, Romney would be toast. Huntsman, Cain, Bauchman, and Santorum would also be toast. This would make it either Paul's race at this point, or he may face a Gingrich or Perry in SC. However, he would face them without having to face their money as they would be out. If Paul finds a way to win SC he wins the nomination. Even if he does not, he has himself in a 2-person race where he starts with a money advantage in a very compressed timeframe.
Paul may be a long-shot, but unlike 4 years ago, he does have a shot. His keys to victory will be:
1- setting up the best possible organization and message in Iowa. He needs to win Iowa.
2. Setting up the best possible organization and message for NH. He needs to win NH.
3. Praying. He needs a divided GOP Field. He has a real shot at getting 20% of the vote in Iowa; and maybe a shot at 25%. To win with that small a part of the vote, he needs alot of other candidates to divide up the remaining 75 - 80% of the vote for Iowa. In the case of NH, he needs candidates to be fighting Romney there and dividing that vote up some also. A 2-person race against Romney is not his ideal situation to be in; a 5 or 6 person race is better for him. Especially one where everyone is attacking Romney.