Ron Paul is a long-shot for the Republican nomination for president by any standard, but a Rasmussen poll finds him in a statistical tie with President Barack Obama.
The survey, released Wednesday by the conservative-leaning organization, finds Obama edging out Paul by 42 points to 41 in a hypothetical 2012 matchup. Eleven percent said they would prefer a different candidate, while 6 percent were undecided.
Rep. Paul (R-TX) has rankled the GOP and conservative establishment with his opposition to its big-spending ways and penchant for war, but has garnered an ardent following of small-government libertarians from across the nation.
His anti-war statements at last weekend's Southern Republican Leadership Conference were met with a mixture of cheers from his fans and boos from the mainstream crowd. Refuting a central Republican talking point, he said Obama was a "corporatist," not a "socialist."
Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll in February and fell second to likely 2012 hopeful Mitt Romney by a single vote at SRLC. He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in 2008.
The results of this study will surely be questioned as Rasmussen has been widely criticized by liberals for allegedly gaming its polls to boost conservatives and Republicans while downplaying progressives and Democrats.
While Rasmussen claims its methods are different only in that it polls likely voters, observers have pointed out that its surveys consistently show higher marks for conservatives over liberals than any other accredited polling group.
Although Obama's poll numbers have considerably declined in the last year, a recent CNN survey found that he remains the most popular political figure nationally. Unlike Paul, he commands a large majority of support within his party.
The study's margin of error is 3 percentage points. It was conducted by Rasmussen on April 12-13 over the phone with 1,000 "likely voters."