As Cain falls and Gingrich rises, here’s a frightening possibility: Ron Paul may become the next anti-Romney candidate. Before you dismiss this thought, consider that the latest Bloomberg News Iowa poll has Paul in second place at 19%, just behind Herman Cain at 20% and ahead of Romney (18%) and Gingrich (17%). Yes, it’s a statistical tie, but as Cain’s numbers continue to recede (which they will after his Libya debacle), Paul could be the big beneficiary. And forget the national polls, Iowa is really what matters.
Paul has the kind of devoted followers who are likely to show up in the freezing cold on January 3. He has the money to get his message out and set up the ground game that’s necessary in Iowa. Sure his foreign policy is looney, but he’s the only candidate proposing to cut $1 trillion in spending the first year in office, eliminate 5 (count them–five) Cabinet departments, and balance the budget by the end of his first term. He wouldn’t just repeal Obamacare, he’d end Medicare/Medicaid, student loans, FannieMae and FreddieMac, foreign aid, and every other federal program not authorized in the constitution. He was tea party before there was a tea party.
If Paul can win or come in second in Iowa, he will receive a huge boost in New Hampshire, where he consistently has polled in third place and which is a much more libertarian electorate. South Carolina also has a strong libertarian element within the Republican party, which could elevate his position. While he can’t win the nomination (or can he?), he can play havoc with the rest of the field and garner enough delegates to control a deadlocked convention.
All I’m saying is that the wheel keeps turning–Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich. Can Ron Paul be next?