[Posted by Karl]
Ron Paul continues to lead PPP’s polling for the GOP caucuses in the Hawkeye State:
The last week and a half has brought little change in the standings for the Iowa Republican caucus: Ron Paul continues to lead Mitt Romney by a modest margin, 24-20. Newt Gingrich is in 3rd at 13% followed by Michele Bachmann at 11%, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum at 10%, Jon Huntsman at 4%, and Buddy Roemer at 2%.
Some continue to dismiss PPP’s polling because Paul’s support comes from young voters, independents and Democrats — the same pattern emerging in New Hampshire and South Carolina. However, last time around, the conventional wisdom was that John Edwards would win among Dems in Iowa because his voters were most likely to turn out. PPP’s Tom Jensen theorizes that the same blocs that lifted Obama in 2008 could do the same for Paul next week. I would take the PPP results with a grain of salt, but given Paul’s apparent organizational advantage, I would not summarily dismiss them (nor would I be surprised if one or more conservatives overachieved).
A Paul victory in Iowa would be ironic in both the short and long term. In the short-term, as Allahpundit keeps noting, a vote for Paul in Iowa is a vote to nominate Romney, supporter of the (state) health insurance mandate and neocon foreign policy.
That short-term irony is the product of the long-term irony. A Paul victory would only intensify the media scrutiny of Paul, longtime publisher of racist, anti-gay, conspiracy-mongering newsletters, in furtherance of an express political strategy, from which he made a lot of money, and for which Paul has given contradictory defenses. (On cue, the NYT editorial arrives this morning.) All of which comes before scrutiny of his fundraising from Holocaust deniers, his longtime association with the John Birch Society and neo-Confederates, his pandering to 9/11 Truthers, and so on. Paul’s media apologists, which now include (to varying degrees) Reason’s Nick Gillespie, Brian Doherty and Jacob Sullum, can make all the lame rationalizations and claims of moral equivalence they like, but it’s all one long exercise in denial. The stench of Paul’s newsletters would cling to his campaign and to libertarianism (and the GOP, if Paul was nominated) every bit as much as the stench of segregationists and Birchers clung to the Goldwater campaign, with effects that still linger today.
A certain strain of libertarians is so detached from political reality that they apparently believe they would profit by running the one Congressman who voted to not celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act against the first black president. The reality-based Right would probably prefer to focus on Obama’s policy failures. Ron Paul’s fans seem to prefer to indirectly boost Romney while damaging the cause of libertarianism for another generation.