Newsletters Issue Not Hurting Ron Paul In Iowa
So far, Iowa voters don't seem to be bothered by the Ron Paul newsletters.
David Weigel takes a look at the internals of the PPP poll I wrote about this morning, and finds that the newsletters controversy that has been all over the media since before Christmas does not seem to be hurting Paul with Iowa voters:
Paul’s number are notably up with Democrats, making up for some slippage with Republicans. The ideological screens are a little different. Here’s how Paul was doing with liberals et al last week.
Real slippage with “very liberal” voters — a tiny fraction of caucus-goers, at 4 percent. But strong support from moderates and “somewhat” liberal voters, and a bounce with “very conservative” voters, who make up 37 percent of the sample.
I would never suggest that the content of the newsletters are boosting Paul here. Two months ago those “very conservative” voters were ready to nominate Herman Cain. But one week after James Kirchick’s Weekly Standard “ahem, remember this?” story kicked off the new wave of Paul stories, it’s either a boutique issue that isn’t connecting with people, a confusing issue that raises “liberal media bias” hackles with conservatives, or both.
- Last week, Paul’s favorable/unfavorable/not sure numbers were 54/38/8. This week they are 53/40/7;
- Among Democrats, Paul’s favorable/unfavorable/not sure numbers went from 59/34/7 to 70/28/2;
- Among Republicans, they went from 52/40/9 to 49/43/6;
- Among Independents, they went from 60/33/6 to 63/30/7;
As Weigel notes, the only group that showed significant slippage was those who identified themselves as “very liberal,” but even there we’re talking about a drop from 66/28/4 to 59/34/7. Not bad at all, especially considering that the “very liberal” group makes up a tiny group of likely caucus goers.
Given that Paul supporters tend to be strongly committed to their candidate in a way that the supporters of the other Republican candidates have not tended to be, this isn’t entirely surprising. On some level, I believe Weigel is right that we’re seeing a reflection of traditional Republican skepticism of the media combined with the fact that many people may well be dismissing this as a 20 year old issue that doesn’t matter to them. Of course, there is another factor. Given the fact that many of these stories about the newsletters broke during the run up to the holidays it’s entirely possible that a lot of Iowa voters haven’t heard a lot about them. That could change between now and January 3rd, but so far none of Paul’s opponents appear to be making much of a big deal about them. The fact that the story broke so late may end up meaning it will have very little impact on the race at this point.
Jonathan Bernstein makes the same point I do about Christmas, and then notes this:
To be fair: Iowa caucus attendees are hardly typical voters. They’re more interested in politics, and far more likely to encounter this kind of stuff than are regular general election voters. But still: this sounds to me a little like all of the people who were claiming a week into the anti-Newt onslaught that he was immune to attacks for whatever reasons. It’s very possible that it just will take a bit of time to sink in.
If that’s going to happen, though, it’s only going to happen if Paul’s opponents start hitting him on it. So far, that has not happened and, other than Newt Gingrich’s tirade on CNN yesterday, it doesn’t seem like it will come from anyone with sufficient money and gravitas to make it matter.