Poll: Ron Paul claims frontrunner status, soaring past Gingrich, Romney

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:41 EDT
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Ron Paul speaks to the libertarian Free State Project. Photo: Flickr user nealaus.
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A surprising new poll out of Bloomberg News on Tuesday morning found that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) is not the only Republican to benefit from the seeming demise of other prior frontrunners.

Beating all the odds and the pundits’ expectations, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has emerged as one of the new frontrunners in the crucial Iowa primary for the GOP nomination to the presidency, topping even Gingrich and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney and virtually tying former businessman Herman Cain for the lead.

All surveys counted, Bloomberg News found that Paul has the support of 19 percent of the state’s GOP primary voters, versus Cain’s 20, Romney’s 18 and Gingrich’s 17.

It’s just the latest in a string of small victories for Paul, who won a Calif. straw poll in Sept., an Ohio straw poll in Oct. and an Illinois straw poll earlier this month. He also dominated a CBS News viewer survey this week, which asked who won the last GOP debate and who should win the nomination. Paul topped all the other candidates by tens of thousands of votes, even though he was only given 89 seconds during the entire debate to speak.

The four-way tie moving forward will present an interesting challenge to conservative media, which seems to have been content ignoring Paul as much as possible. Even in the instances where he’s won or placed highly in typically influential Republican polls, his victories have been swept under the rug as pundits continued to focus on candidates thought to be more favored by Republicans.

He’s since become regarded in much mainstream press as something of a “gadfly,” and not likely a serious contender. “If I were Romney and Perry, I would be thinking of a way to get Ron Paul off the stage because he is a distraction,” Bradley Blakeman, a Republican strategist and former Bush staffer, explained to Fox Business in Sept., articulating party insiders’ prevailing opinions of Paul.

Those opinions would now appear to be irrelevant, but it’s still unclear if the latest poll results will earn Paul any additional headway with members of the press.

A separate poll published Monday by survey group Public Policy Polling found Paul at just 5 percent support, with Gingrich leading the pack at 28 percent.

Earlier polling by Selzer & Co., which conducted Tuesday’s Bloomberg poll, found that Paul had solidly claimed third place by mid-Oct. with 12 percent support, trailing Romney at 22 and Cain at 23.

Photo: Flickr user nealaus.

Updated from an original version.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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