Ron Paul Third in New Hampshire?

Ron Paul could finish third in New Hampshire, which “would embarrass Rudy Giuliani and steal media limelight from John McCain and Mitt Romney, who are battling for first place,” contends New Hampshire Union Leader editorial page editor Andrew Cline.

This would seem rather far-fetched. Paul is a distant fifth in the New Hampshire polling averages and no better than than fourth in any reputable poll there:

New Hampshire Republican Primary Polls

This doesn’t matter, Cline argues, because Paul is a special case:

Ron Paul Third in New Hampshire? Many Republican operatives in New Hampshire, even those affiliated with other campaigns, think Mr. Paul is headed for an impressive, double-digit performance. That he has been polling in the high single digits for months is discounted, because the polls may be missing the depth of his support.

Why? For starters, he appears to be drawing new voters. Polls that screen for “likely” voters might screen out many Paul supporters who haven’t voted often, or at all, before. Many of Mr. Paul’s supporters appear to be first-time voters. They will be able to cast their ballots because New Hampshire allows them to register and vote on the day of an election.

I don’t doubt that Paul’s poll numbers likely reflect more depth than those of the other candidates. Most of us are trying to settle on one of the top tier candidates despite strong differences on core issues, whereas most of Paul’s supporters are truly enthusiastic about their man.

Still, I’m rather dubious of claims that the polls are that skewed.

Further, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire see themselves as gatekeepers, deciding for the rest of the country who the legitimate candidates are. It strikes me as unlikely that so many of them would turn out for Paul — who’s invisible in most of the national polls — rather than lending their imprimatur to one of the major candidates.

Still, the New Hampshire primary is notoriously unpredictable and stranger things have happened.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Public Opinion Polls, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Darryl Schmitz says:

    We will know soon enough. The moment of truth is at hand, as over the next few weeks we will begin to get the answers to these questions.

  2. Robert E. says:

    How do I spin my way out of the AOL Straw Poll which just keeps on churning along, now with 387,000 votes casts, evenly distributed (4.39% spread) between DEM and REP votes.

    Elections are decided by those who are enthusiastic and committed enough to go out there and actually vote. This makes me wonder how a so called “scientific poll” of a mere 1,000 to 2,000 people, selected by the pollsters, can be a more accurate reflection of voter sentiment than a supposedly unscientific “straw poll” where so far close to 400,000 people have voted voluntarily because they are enthusiastic and committed enough to go out there and actually vote.

    Go figure.

  3. Troy says:

    Classic Poll-Smoking.

  4. Phil Smith says:

    Oh yeah, Robert, websurfing over to the AOL poll is precisely analogous to registering to vote and getting up early enough to go in before work, or taking time off from work to actually go vote. I just did it!! I’m MOTIVATED!! And on a Sunday, no less!

  5. John Brown says:

    Actually the Polls back up the likelihood of of a third place finish.

    First you discount the inherent error in the polss, which is 3 – 4 % Given this, he is in a statistical tie for third in 3 polls.

    Second, the ARG and LAtimes polls consistently has lower numbers for Paul (in Iowa to) – this suggests that their sampling method is skewed.

    Last, you never average Polls where different sampling methods were used, its completely invalid, despite RCPs love for doing this.

    So, if you add in the depth of support – i.e. the fact that supporters will definitely show up. There is a strong chance for a RP 3rd place.

    Will the Washington talking heads continue to ignore him then ?

  6. brad smith says:

    In my first statistics class I was told by my prof. “There are lie, damn lies, and then Statistics”. He went on to explain the numerous ways that stats can be and are manipulated to get a specific result. Polls are exactly the same. They are used as a form of propaganda to PUSH people in one direction or another. Unfortunately this often does work. Let’s hope this time we can overcome the polls with hard work.

    Ron Paul President 2008

  7. Joe Lawson says:

    I hate being old, I have heard this before Reagan in 1980 – wasn’t suppose to finish 3rd in Iowa, John Kerry, polling at 2% before Iowa, Carter voting at 1% before Iowa, Pat Buchanan polling at 5% before NH Primary.

    I heard this before, and I have seen these pundits make the wrong predictions everytime – look for Ron Paul to shock in NH and South Carolina – he will finish 3rd in Iowa.

  8. Gino says:

    James, your living in Disneyland if you think the polls are even slightly accurate. Do you know that the only polls that have shown historic accuracy are exit polling data?

  9. just me says:

    I can see to some degree where Paul might have appeal in NH given that the state’s attitude in general tends to be a more libertarian type philosophy, but I am not so sure he will do that well. I think mostly because it is hard to tell for sure just which way the independant (as in unaffiliated with either party) are going to vote, and for that matter which party they will choose to cast their votes in.

    And I know I am not the only GOP member in the state who is still undecided-I will vote for somebody come voting day, but which day you catch me on may result in a different answer.

    Not to mention I don’t answer the polls when they call-we probably get about 4-6 calls a week-about who I intend to vote for, or it is a telephone add for one candidate or another. As soon as I hear any kind of recording, I just hang up the phone. I am willing to bet I am not the only person who is doing this.

  10. Cedric says:

    Ron Paul can do it. He has more support than any of us can imagine. I meet new supporters everyday, I dunno where they’re coming from, but they keep coming. If Ron Paul doesn’t break 3rd in NH, it’ll be because of vote fraud, not lack of support.

  11. Jay says:

    What is so strange and unlikely for a person that’s polling fourth/fifth to get third in the actual election???

    You first say that you doubt that polling can’t be that skewed, then you say New Hampshire is very unpredictable. Nice to keep contradicting yourself. Next time you blog some more BS, be sure to read it.

  12. Dave says:

    Why Polls Don’t Apply:

    1) Who Gets Polled In the Big-Name Polls?
    When GOP polls are taken by Zogby, Rasmussen and others, they only poll those GOP voters who either caucused or voted in the last GOP POTUS primary. But GW Bush ran unopposed in 2004, and only 6% of all GOP voters participated.

    And let’s face it, those that would actually go to a primary to vote for someone running unopposed are the hardcore GW Bush supporters who had to make sure the guy won the primaries. These are not people who would be likely to vote for Ron Paul, but they’re a teens tiny percentage of total GOP voters. But when these polls are taken, these are the people that get the phone calls. The fact that as many as 10% of them in Iowa support Ron Paul is amazing.

    2) Ron Paul and Disillusioned Republicans
    I’m one of them, and so are many others. GW Bush ran on Ron Paul’s foreign policy platform back in 1999, which is the year I voted for Bush.

    After watching Bush and his cartel do precisely the opposite of what he said he’d do, then after 911, and the Iraq invasion, I joined the Constitution Party before the last election in 2003 and that’s how I voted.

    The press say that 25% of GOP voters are now against GW Bush’s policies. The press always underreports though. I think the number is much much higher. All the other candidates are touting following the current policies of the Bush administration (with a few minor exceptions). Based on the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with Republicans who are voting for Paul, I believe that more GOP voters support Paul than the media lets on, and those GOP voters aren’t the ones being polled.

    3) Ron Paul and Independents
    They’re switching more and more each day. So many in this country are so sick of the Dems and GOP that they’re declaring their independence. Paul is attracting them in huge numbers because he is so different. But they aren’t polled.

    4) Ron Paul and Disenfranchised Democrats
    I am shocked at how many Democrats I’ve met that have become Paul supporters. They have “held their noses” and reregistered as Republicans just so they can vote for Paul. But they aren’t polled.

    5) Ron Paul and Libertarians
    Recently, the LP asked Paul if he’d run on their ticket and he refused. Why? Because LP candidates don’t participate in debates and get even less attention than Paul gets now. Paul must stay in the mainstream party at least until after February 5th or he’ll really get ignored. But is that going to stop LP voters from voting for him? NO WAY! They’re registering GOP in the states that require declaring fo primaries. And they too, are not polled.

    6) Ron Paul and the Constitution Party
    The CP is now the third-largest party in the United States. Some in it’s own leadership are supporting Ron Paul, the most notable being Chuck Baldwin. The argument rages across the Internet: Should CP members support a candidate that isn’t running on their ticket or should they cut off their noses to spite their faces? The concensus seesm to be: How many chances like this will we ever get? CP Party members seem to agree there won’t be many. As I am a CP member, I am on many forums where I see this daily. And they don’t get polled either.

    7) Ron Paul and Leftist Liberals
    Yes, even members and others support Paul, though on one issue alone. That of course is his foreign policy platform of non-interventionism. But the fact that even these liberals would support Paul speaks volumes about his cross-party support. Think these liberals get polled? NOT!

    8 International Support:
    Paul has more meetup groups, organizations and supporters in other countries than any other candidate. For years, the rest of the world has been dismayed at an ever increasing imperialism of the United States around the world. Paul wants to stop that. Do these supporters have influence? You bet they do! There are millions of new voters in the United States in the form of new naturalized citizens. Those new citizens, proud of their newly-gained status, almost always vote. But they aren’t polled.

    9) Military Support:
    Paul gets the most money from our military than any other candidate in either party. But guess what? They aren’t polled!

    10) How Are the Big-Name Polls Conducted?
    While this may be a minor point (and therefore deserves last place), it IS a factor. All the national and state big name polls are conducted using land line phones. Folks who use only cellular phones aren’t getting polled, even if they did vote in the GOP primary in 2003.

    When you combine all these factors together, it becomes clear that poll numbers mean nothing when it comes to predicting Ron Paul’s viability.

    If your only reason for not supporting Ron Paul is you don’t see him doing well in these polls, I suggest you rethink your position.

  13. scottimack says:

    Another factor in the national polling groups is that you won’t be on the potential caller list if you’ve moved since the last GOP POTUS primary.

  14. akak says:

    I am so sick to death of all this poll bullshit I could scream! Just how often have polls ever been very accurate, or predicted the winner of any political contest? Not often! Then why, why, WHY do you bloggers and so-called “pundits” love to keep going back to them, like a crack whore to her pipe?

    IGNORE POLLS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. I’m a lifelong NH’ite, and have been involved with politics here since the days of Reagan running for his first term. He frequently blow out the polls here in NH, sometimes by as much as 10x polled support – some names that come to mind are Carter, Reagan, Dukakis, Clinton, Kerry, Keough, Shea-Porter, and others.
    We NH Inds are an independent lot. :O)

  16. Rick Cain says:

    Asking 28 people what they think about the candidates and posting it as some sort of representation of a national average.

    Yeah that will always be accurate.

    You suck, Frank Luntz.

  17. Ron Paul Revolutionary Guard says:

    All so-called POLLS are IMMORAL and aren’t worth anything. The only poll that counts is the one taken on voting day. People should reject polls and the pollsters who push these unscientific polls. Think F Frank when you see a poll. Don’t let big media, sleazy politicians, and the military industrial complex tell you who you should vote for in the election. You are never throwing away your vote by voting for someone that “can’t possibly win”. Voting none of the above is taking a stand too against a corrupt democratic and republican political parties. Stop voting for the lesser of two evils because it is still voting for evil. Vote for the candidate that most closely reflects your views and loves the constitution, peace, prosperity, and change. Viva la Ron Paul rEVOLution.

  18. Dave says:

    We, the active military, aren’t allowed to sound in on politics, publicly. We would be punished if we did and could be identified. RP wants to withdraw us from Iraq. Who do you think the majority of us support?

  19. scottimack says:

    We, the active military, aren’t allowed to sound in on politics, publicly. We would be punished if we did and could be identified. RP wants to withdraw us from Iraq. Who do you think the majority of us support?

    Going by the amount of campaign contributions from active duty military personnel, it looks like Ron Paul is the guy that the majority of you support.
    Since you asked.

  20. Joe Allen says:

    For ten terms in Congress, Dr. Paul has voted on principle, often by himself. Can I do no less?
    I can’t control what others do, so I don’t worry about it. I believe government is too big and taxes are too high. Ron Paul is the only candidate addressing the issues I care about. He will have my vote.

  21. Bob C says:

    I am a Ron Paul supporter and have experience with other campaigns. I just came back from W. Lebanon, NH, there was a weekend sign wave. A lot of honks, thumbs up…very encouraging. Last week before Christmas outside the NEWINGTON MALL, big sign wave, lots of support. In Manchester, Concord, see what happens later this week…His supporters will be active. How many Guliani sign waves have you seen? Romney is a lying stiff, his latest lie is he’s a life long “hunter” ha ha ha ha ha. He’s never had a damn hunting license!
    He couldn’t even hit his own lawyer if Dick Cheney gave him lessons. Huckabee? McCain? These supposed conservatives want to give American tax dollars to illegal aliens for welfare and college tution.

    While none of us will know until the votes are counted…there is support for Ron Paul in spite of the media blackout, alot of it and it’s growing. DO NOT WRITE HIM OFF.
    Do not be surprised if he wins New Hampshire
    out right, that’s right – first f…ing place
    to all you Political spin masters and Hillary / GW Bush lap dogs that pretend to be news casters !

    If YOU are tired of the B.S. GOOGLE RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT 2008

  22. Curious George says:

    McCain 17%
    Romney 16%
    Huckabee 16%
    Giuliani 15%
    Thompson 12%
    Paul 7%

    Latest Rasmussen poll. Curious how 10 points off the lead is “invisible”? Well, we’ll know in a week if Dr. Paul is as “invisible” as this “reporter” leads us to believe or not, won’t we?

  23. xtrabiggg says:

    Ron Paul continues to lead the pack in everything but Media Coverage and telephone polls of ‘Likely Republican Voters’- which is really ” People who voted for Bush in the 2004 Primary”- you can look it up in the methodology disclosures of the polls themselves!

    Campaign fundraising- Paul Leads… Individual donors- Paul leads… Grassroots organization and number of volunteers- Paul leads… Attendance at rallies and campaign appearances- Paul Leads… Number of Yard Signs- Paul leads… amount of support from INDIVIDUALS on Myspace, Facebook and other Social Networking sites- Paul Leads… Number of searches on GOOGLE for the last year, six months, month, week and day- Paul Leads… Number of website hits- Paul Leads… Number ov individuals with pro-candidate websites- Paul leads… Text message, On-line, any polls OTHER than Major Media Corporation PHONE polls- Paul leads…

    If ANY of the other candidates had half of the support listed above, they would be hailed as the next coming of George Washington! But since Ron Paul opposes much of what the OWNERS of the mainstream media outlets MAKE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM, he is ignored, slandered and lied about. His real support is minimized and discounted, since publicizing it would show how much the American Public is dusillusioned and disgusted with ‘business as usual’ in Washington D.C.

    A vote for ANYONE other than Ron paul is a wasted vote, as the rest of the field just stands for a continuation of the corruption, waste, greed and rape of the American Citizenry that has accelerated over the last seven years.

    Don’t Wast Your Vote- Make it count for something REAL! Vote for ROn Paul!


  24. Jimmy case says:

    Ron Paul, can win the presidency. Contrary to the pundits and media propaganda, Ron Paul is best positioned to win the GOP nomination.

    Ron Paul has more money than his opponents and is just starting to gain momentum. As a result of massive popular support Paul’s donor base is huge and donors are not close to reaching contribution limits. Paul’s opponents are going broke and their donors are maxed out. Ron Paul may raise 20 million this quarter and chances are he’ll raise more the next quarter.

    To get an idea of how strong Paul’s support is consider this. Ron Paul received donations from over 123,000 people this quarter. If one out of 100 voters donate to a presidential candidate that means Paul has the support of over 12 million primary voters. My guess is that less than 1 out of 100 voters donate in a primary.

    Of Paul’s opponents, John McCain and Mike Huckabee are broke and don’t have the funds to compete on Super Tuesday. Both candidates appear to be media creations in this election and don’t have that much popular support. If it weren’t for undeserved free media they wouldn’t be on the radar screens.

    Giuliani was forced to go with his big state strategy because he ran the risk of getting creamed in early primaries. He appears to be a lead balloon and runs the risk of losing some of those big states to Paul. Thompson just hasn’t taken off. There is a chance he could get revived in South Carolina but he may not make it that far.

    Romney is self financing his campaign and can go the distance, but how much of his personal wealth is he willing to squander?

    Recent commentaries and political talk have mentioned the possibility of a brokered convention. This is an early admission by pundits that Ron Paul can’t be stopped, and a hope that he won’t have 50% of the delegates allowing his opponents to broker a deal to deny him the nomination.

    Paul is unique among GOP candidates because his support is national. He can compete in every state.

    The primary calendar has been frontloaded which was deliberate to keep second tier candidates (candidates not bought and paid for) from having a shot at winning the nomination. It is doubtful that when planning the schedules anybody had a clue that Ron Paul would be one of the only candidate that could be competitive on February 5th

    Iowa, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, Florida, Maine are all up for grabs prior to Super Tuesday which is on February 5th. Given the low expectations Paul only needs to win one of these to show that he can win prior to Super Tuesday.

    The Iowa caucus on January 3rd will be a tough start for Paul. He hasn’t spent that much time in Iowa and may not have the organization that Romney does to win the caucus. Placing in the top five is all that is needed there. A third place would be huge.

    Two days later on January 5th is the Wyoming Caucus. This state is a neighbor of Utah and Romney may have a strong organization here as well. Paul may do well here though.

    January 8th in New Hampshire is where the campaign really starts for Ron Paul. He doesn’t need to win it but he probably will. Buchanan won this state in 1996 running on similar campaign themes with 27% of the vote. Paul’s support is much broader.

    Paul’s odds look good for Michigan on January 15th. The state is a foreclosure war zone and Paul’s blaming of the Federal Reserve for creating a housing crash may resonate well.

    January 19th Nevada and South Carolina are up for elections. Paul should win Nevada and has an outside shot at South Carolina.

    On January 29th Florida is up. This is the state where Giuliani has circled his wagons. If he’s still in the race it will be an uphill battle for him especially if Paul has momentum generated by a couple victories. There is evidence of Paul support in Florida on the ground just by observing bumper stickers and yard signs on residences but Giuliani also has some visible support.

    Of course, if Paul wins New Hampshire the momentum generated from that victory is likely to steam roll his campaign through all of the above mentioned states setting him up for the knock out punch on Super Tuesday.

    If Ron Paul doesn’t have the nomination sewed up on Super Tuesday, Paul’s delegate rich home state of Texas will be the final nail in the coffin come March.

    The point is it is already too late to stop Paul. He’s going to win the Republican nomination.

    As a general election candidate Ron Paul will win a 50 state landslide against any Democratic nominee.

    Ron Paul’s opposition to the war in Iraq, and defense of the Bill of Rights, and Civil Liberties, may actually dig deeply into the Democratic vote and overwhelmingly attract independents to his campaign.

    His support for secure borders as an integral part of national defense is also a very popular issue that transcends parties.

    If Ron Paul is the GOP nominee it won’t matter if Bloomberg or anybody else runs as a third party candidate. Once people go to Paul’s website and review his issues and record they either reject Paul’s ideas or they are sold. Paul will not lose any supporters to another candidate once they are in his camp.

    Unlike media propaganda, the ideals of peace, freedom, and prosperity, are very mainstream. To the aging baby boomer population now on fixed incomes, Ron Paul’s challenging of the Federal Reserve’s ‘Inflation Tax’ is most welcomed. To the rest of America feeling the double whammy of an ‘Inflation Tax’ and progressive federal income taxes, Paul’s calls to end the income tax are a cause for celebration.

    In fact, Paul’s calls for reforming the monetary system, the income tax, foreign policy, and protecting the Constitution, are a lot more mainstream than pre-emptive nuclear war, no borders, and a police state are.

    Those media generated polls are as valuable as the media propaganda that pushed the nation to war in Iraq. People should have as much faith in polls as they do the Easter Bunny and computerized voting. Ron Paul is going to win by a landslide

  25. Tracy says:

    “Far-fetched” ?
    I don’t think so.

  26. Bithead says:

    James, I assume you’re putting this stuff up to troll for the increased hits form the Paulbots? (Grinning, ducking)

  27. Tiger says:

    “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”

    Thomas Jefferson

  28. Paul says:

    The GOP should start giving Ron Paul more support as their candidate. He is the only Republican who is bringing in new voters & energizing people. He would also bring in the most independent & democratic voters in the general.

  29. I think that the polls are rarely that off, but they have been in isolated cases. Intensity of support is an unmeasurable support and determines the outcome. Also the gate keeper notion is not always right. McCarty in 1968 comes to mind.

    Paul’s support among young people is pretty strong and they are active young people. The money is another significant factor because it indicates a wide level of individual support. Last the media and political operatives are with success trying to paint Paul as a nut-case, but in these first primaries the people get to meet the candidates and in person you see that he is not by any measure a nut case. He has some extreme ideas but not as extreme as what we have seen form the Bush administration. These ideas have traction.

    While McCarthy was a college professor and was a single issue candidate – the Vietnam War – he changed the political landscape in 1968. The people are slowly turning a deaf ear to the Mainstream Media and I think this year we will see a lot of surprises.

    You can fool all the people some of the time. some of the all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. We are in Lincolns third phase. We are tired of being treated like docile idiots.

    Paul may get only single digits, but don’t be too surprised if he does better and there should be a lot of other surprises.

  30. John says:

    You just don’t get it….the people want to take back government from the professionals. Ron Paul is the horse they are riding.

  31. Bithead says:

    Heh… IN my book, that’s called ‘desperation’, John. Hoping to heck the Yugo can pull that tractor trailer.