Republican presidential contender Ron Paul is in real trouble if the new national poll by NBC/Wall Street Journal is a reliable indicator. The question, though, is if his prospects are really that bad.
An analysis of certain key factors that determine poll results, as well as the campaign strategy of other leading Republican candidates, suggests the situation isn't quite bad.
National acceptance is an important factor in determining a candidate's electability in the 2012 elections, considering the Republican nominee will be fighting current President Barack Obama, who has proven national acceptability. The NBC national poll put Texas representative Ron Paul in third place, far behind the two front runners - former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Gingrich has a massive lead and weighs in at 40 percent, compared to Romney's 23 percent. Meanwhile, Ron Paul has a paltry 9 percent. The figures do worry Paul's supporters.
However, how serious should we be about national polls at this stage? If you were to consider the campaigns and poll scenarios so far, it seems too early to go by such results. So far, in fact, the front runners have changed leads drastically and Paul has a fair chance and amount of time to improve his national acceptability score for following reasons:
Paul's Strategy and Republican Primary Election Pattern:
The Texas representative's 2012 election campaign has, so far, been consistent. The state-wise primary elections have their own benefits, something both Paul and his team are aware of. They help the candidate concentrate on one state after the other. For example, Paul has been concentrating on Iowa and two other states that go to poll first. In all these three states he has made significant advances, either staying ahead or ending up slightly behind his two Republican contenders. It would seem, then, that Paul is executing his strategy well.
The concept of national acceptability is also directly associated with a candidate's electability. Ron Paul may not have the necessary figures in all the states at present but if he goes on to win or at least reach the second place in Iowa and the other two states then his acceptability in the remaining states will naturally increase. We will find people listening to him, bolstering his national acceptability ratings. Paul and his squadron seem to have best exploited the benefits of the Republican state-wise primaries.
The second factor to be considered is Paul's slow but steady progress. Unlike his fellow Republican hopefuls, he started low and slow. He wasn't considered a strong contender, despite this being the second time he is in the poll fray. However, when other front runners' poll statistics show rapid rise and falls, Paul's shows consistent progress. His long-term endurance could turn the game in his favor.
Changing U.S. Mindset and Economic Conditions:
The mindset of the average American is changing. The economic setbacks, the rising debt burden, the changing global political scenario and other factors have all contributed to that change. The Republicans are critical of the current U.S economic and foreign policies which they believe will not be of any help in fighting the slowdown. In this context Paul's foreign and domestic policies, based on tax cuts and non-interventionalist ideologies, may look different from the others but they do find takers.
For instance, Ron Paul has promised to scrap unproductive federal departments including education.This looks unacceptable. However, if Paul and his supporters can explain their stance, they might gain a significant amount of support.
Ron Paul vs Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney:
Ron Paul has certain advantages. His integrity and commitment have, so far, been well above reproach, particularly when compared to the other leading candidates in the fray. It would therefore seem that he doesn't have much to fear with regard to skeletons in the closet.
Gingrich, on the other hand, seems in constant danger of self-destruction, due to his improbable nature and controversial history. Mitt Romney seems to be something of a flip-flopper especially on policy issues, which can be a serious issue with the U.S voters.
So far then, it seems Paul's spot-free public life and integrity have helped him mount a negative campaign (if it could be so termed) against his Republican rivals, while they, in turn, are forced to vouch for positive campaigns... because it may prove fatal to do otherwise.
The biggest challenge for Paul is to communicate and convince voters of his ideology; something that should help him stay ahead of his fellow contenders. His current strategy, in that regard, seems to be working fine.
This is why current national polls and his acceptability ratings might not be an indicator of his electability. If he is able to sustain his current strategy till the very end, then it would not be a surprise to find him as Republican nominee for 2012 U.S presidential polls.