Latest Gallup Poll Puts Ron Paul At 4%

Last week, I noted that the first post-summer Gallup Poll seemed to show Ron Paul slipping back into the 1% range after a summer that had him moving up in the polls.

This week’s poll results are out, and it seems that the September 10th release may have been a statistical anomaly:

PRINCETON, NJ — Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to lead the national race for the Republican presidential nomination, although his support has faded to one of its lowest readings of the year. Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who recently announced his candidacy, holds steady in second place, 8 percentage points behind the frontrunner. Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain has continued to recover from his early August doldrums and is in third place, only 4 points behind Thompson and more than 10 points ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Romney’s mini-bounce after the Iowa straw poll in early August appears to have been short-lived.

In general, support for McCain has shown gradual improvement over the past month, and Americans’ opinions of McCain are at their highest point since May. McCain is now rated as favorably by Americans as Giuliani, and more so than the less-well known Thompson or Romney.

The Sept. 14-16, 2007, Gallup Poll survey finds Giuliani maintaining a significant lead over the eight other announced Republican candidates, with 30% of Republicans (and Republican-leaning independents) supporting the former New York City mayor for the nomination. Following next is Thompson at 22%, McCain at 18%, and Romney at 7%. Both former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and current Texas Congressman Ron Paul get 4% of the vote.

Admittedly, an increase from 3% to 4% is, statistically speaking, not all that important. But at least it shows that the notoriety and support that the Paul campaign had gained over the summer didn’t simply evaporate. It also shows that the only way to really look at poll results is not as a single snapshot, but to watch the overall trends.

And, on the GOP side, the trends are interesting.

Giuliani remains in the lead, but his support is slipping and a guy who has only been in the race for a week is gaining on him fast. McCain is now a third-place candidate, which basically means he’s done. Romney had a boomlet for awhile but seems to be quickly fading.

As for Ron Paul, I’m not sure what it means. 4% is not a number upon which a winning campaign is built, but it does show that there’s growing support for a libertarian message among Republican voters.

And that can only be a good thing.

  • Buckwheat

    Yippee Mataconis! Stand-up guy.

  • Brian T. Traylor

    I am both amused and pleased to note that Ron Paul is polling within the statistical margin of error of Mitt Romney. Sure, Mitt has fallen, but Ron is rising.

  • Jeff Molby

    As for Ron Paul, I’m not sure what it means. 4% is not a number upon which a winning campaign is built

    Yes, it is.

    If you’re a clone candidate, 4% is obviously not going to get it done at this point. Since your platform doesn’t vary significantly from your opponent, you have no way to make up ground against someone who’s getting more press.

    But when you stand in stark contrast to the other candidates, 4% at this point is exactly where you expect to be. Six month ago, Ron Paul’s poll number wasn’t even a number. They just gave him a little asterisk. He’s already doubled up at least twice and still more than 90% of the people are unaware of him. That means more than 40% of the people who know of him, support him.

    Now those numbers won’t necessarily scale up as he reaches out to the bulk of the electorate, but they could. If the American people do still have a taste for liberty, he could easily be running with the big dogs by the new year. Toss in a strong showing in NH coupled with respectable showings in Iowa and Michigan and it’s anybody’s ballgame.

    Those are big “ifs”, of course. I’m not optimistic about that whole “taste for liberty” thing, but I might still be there. If it is, prepare yourself for the biggest upset in our history.

  • Buckwheat

    The 4% probably underestimates Paul’s support in the primary, since 1) Gallup polled only Republicans and R-leaners, while Paul has great antiwar crossover appeal 2) They poll on landlines, which undercounts Paul’s high level of college and tech geek support; 3) these polls don’t measure *intensity* of support, which is key in primaries for voter turnout.

    100% of Ron Paul’s supporters are gonna turn out. What % of, say, Giuliani and Thompson’s will? Paul has 46,000 meetup members; Thompson has less than 200, and Rudy has ZERO — count ’em, zero.

    If they don’t assassinate Ron Paul, which they might, he’s going to become president.

  • Craig

    I think it shows that more people are becoming aware of Ron Paul and his views. He remains the presidential candidate with the biggest upside, in either major party.

    The Forbes 08 tracker still has him below 10% public awareness, so they won’t even give him a rating. Another poll showed about 70% of Americans saying they didn’t know him well enough to have an opinion about him.

    If he’s between 10 and 30 percent in name recognition, and 4 percent already like him, he could hit 20 percent just by getting his name out there….

    Of course, that takes money, TV coverage, and/or lots of volunteers….

  • Jeff Molby

    Of course, that takes money, TV coverage, and/or lots of volunteers…

    Yup. The ads will come. Until then, we have to plant the seeds.

    Our meetup has been able to get voter registration lists from the state GOP. I try to deliver at least 50 slim jims to home of Republicans and Independents each day.

  • Craig

    At some point, a one-time “fringe candidate” hits a viability threshold. At first, he is ridiculed as being different. Then, the early adopters spread the word, and support builds slowly.

    Suddenly, it hits a level where the fence-sitters who like the message but don’t want to openly support a fringe candidate decide that it’s no longer a danger to their own credibility to say they like the guy.

    I saw the same thing happen with Ross Perot. He was polling initially in the low single digits, and people made fun of him. Once his support hit 7 or 8 percent in the polls, it ballooned overnight to 30%, and he was in the lead.

    Then he dropped out, talking about Republican dirty tricks, and people thought he was flaky again. That won’t happen with Paul, because he’s about the least flaky guy in the world, and because no one would think that accusations of Republican dirty tricks are very hard to believe anymore.

  • Jeff Molby

    Oh, and I was wrong about the asterisk. In May, he actually got a zero. zip. zilch.

  • Brad

    4% isn’t a number a winning campaign can be built upon? Learn some history, young padawan. Some pretty damn RECENT history.

    Who were the most significant players in the last open primary we had in this country, Democrats in 2004?

    John Kerry and John Edwards, by a lot.

    Know what they were polling in mid-September 2003?

    Try this. ABC poll on September 13th, 2003.

    Lieberman 21
    Dean 15
    Kerry 14
    Gephardt 14
    Clark 6
    Sharpton 5
    Carol Mosley-Brown 4
    Edwards 3

    Gallup poll, same time

    Lieberman 18
    Gephardt 15
    Dean 15
    Kerry 12
    Bob Graham 5
    Edwards 5

    CBS/NYT, a little later, Sept 28th:

    Clark 14
    Dean 9
    Gephardt 5
    Lieberman 5
    Kerry 4
    Edwards 1

    By November, Kerry was polling at about 7, Edwards at about 3.

    Edwards never got above single digits until the day of Iowa voting.

    A nice stroll down memory lane.

    In 1992, though the schedules were pretty vastly different, Bill Clinton was polling at about 4% early in the race, not even blipping in the polls against Tsongas, Harkin, and Kerrey (Bob). He was down by 30 points in New Hampshire. And the funny thing was, he didn’t win either Iowa OR New Hampshire. His SECOND place win in New Hampshire (33 percent to 25 percent, to Tsongas), got him enough juju to take the nomination.

    The only other non-incumbent race in the last decade+ was 2000, where John McCain and George W. Bush were neck and neck in the polls from November on (as were Bill Bradley and Al Gore, incidentally; Bradley led Gore in polls in New Hampshire all throughout). Know who the early polls in the Republican primary of 2000 favored?

    “On the GOP side, John McCain has a narrow 39 percent — 34 percent edge over George W. Bush, with Steve Forbes at 15 percent and Alan Keyes at 9 percent.”

    McCain led Bush in South Carolina at one point by 57 percent to 33.

    I could go on.

  • Brad


    In EVERY cycle, the schedules are different, but at this point in the race, there is always an appointed front-runner that does NOTHING in the end. Lieberman in 2004. E. Dole in 2000. Forbes in 1996. Kerrey in 1992. All the way back to, well, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, if you want to look at famous Republican nobodies.

    In nearly every non-incumbent cycle, there is some guy that nobody’s ever heard of by halftime, that is polling in low single digits nationally right up to the first votes cast in Iowa, who ends up becoming The Major Player of that cycle. Edwards in 2004, 2000 (R) is sort of weird that way (less open field, which isn’t the case in this cycle), Clinton in 92, etc.

    Polling, to a point, reflects name ID for a long, long time. Lieberman in 2000. E. Dole (and S. Forbes) in 1996. Harkin and Kerrey in 92. Etc. And EVER CYCLE, people interpret those polls to be completely obvious indicators of who is viable and who isn’t, and EVERY CYCLE they are wrong to varying extents, and EVERY CYCLE history is revised immediately following the breakouts to where it’s seen as almost inevitable that things turned out as they did, and to a man none of the king-makers and pundits say another word about how dead wrong they spent most of the cycle being. You never hear about it again. So EVERY CYCLE we go back to the same pattern, where we discuss who are obviously viable and who are obviously not, and then every cycle get that thrown in our faces to some extent.

    So, with these things, lazily taking the word of conventional wisdom for “who places” is almost always a bad bet.

    Some assumptions:

    You have to read between the lines to some extent, and those tea leaves start looking more clear in retrospect.

    In Ron Paul’s favor:

    Unlike, say, 2000, or 96, for the Republicans (really, the last contested primaries in 25 years for them), this race is not a coronation. There is not a clear favorite, nor is there even a clear challenger. Nobody can get above thirty percent, and the movement of the poll indicates how wide open this race is, and how the electorate has so not settled. McCain is up, Romney down, Romney up, Rudy down, Thompson looks good….oh wait, he’s not moving at all, but Huckabee!…okay, so he hasn’t moved either. But except for his massive disapprovals and inability to take votes away from his challengers, Rudy sure has this locked up, eh? In Ron Paul’s favor: the more open a race, the farther down the anointed “tiers” voters are willing to go. Kerry/Edwards. Clinton.

    This race is wide open. And not only do I think it’s possible for a 4% to break through, I will bet cold cash that of the top 3 finishers in Iowa and New Hampshire (six places total), two (plus or minus one) are currently polling less than 5%.

    Second, at this point, what’s important aren’t the raw numbers, but the micro trends. Rudy getting 31% or whatever is meaningless, except to say that he gets a fair chunk of people willing to consider him early. What is significant are those smaller trends I mentioned above. In Ron Paul’s favor: his numbers, though small, have been remarkably consistent (save the normal statistical noise). 1%. 2%. 3%. 4%. My guess: next Gallup poll averaged with a few more liberal pollsters (Zogby, say), is 5%. That is absolutely a trend a winning campaign could be built on. If he jumped to 14% and then went back down to 4, I’d be worried. If he has been ahead for six months but can’t break out, I’d be worried. But that’s not the case.

    Third, polling, at this point in the cycle, is much less important than other metrics. Good metrics (at this point): institutional support (admittedly sparse in Ron Paul’s case), money, and organization.

    On money, Ron Paul was in the Top 5 last go-around. I will be surprised if he isn’t in the Top 4, and a very close fourth at worst, this cycle. If you think about that, it will be three guys garnering 90% of media coverage, national frontrunners all, and Ron Paul right there with them, and then everybody else. I will be further surprised if his number of individual donors this cycle isn’t Top Three. I will be even more surprised if his cash on hand, and expenditures, doesn’t leave him in a financial position that is a hugely disproportionally (to his polling) sign of strength. That’s not to say that he won’t be 25 million dollars behind Giuliani (or Thompson or whoever), but it is to say that his financial hammer will be cocked, and he will be a man apart from the rest of the second tier (though I can’t yet figure Huckabee).

    Finally, on organization (and here I mean “support”, maybe “enthusiasm”, but really I mean “army”), Ron Paul has the gift that keeps on giving. His de facto organization is not just tops among the GOP, it’s right up there with Obama among all candidates running. 50,000 Meetup members is no joke. He regularly attracts crowds three or four times the size of any that the front-runners ever get. In every county in American he has a presence. And it’s a scary presence. Romney, for instance, has to pay people to be enthusiastic. Paul has the sort of folks that paint tugboats and fly signs behind planes FOR FREE. I can’t speak of Paul’s campaign staff, but his volunteer army, to a man, is going to have an effect. Will it turn an election, or will it flame out ala Howard Dean? Tough to say.

    But of course, Dean’s vaulted him to frontrunner status and magazine covers all over the country, and he’s now in charge of the Democratic party.

    In summary: Don’t worry about Ron Paul. He may not win, sure, and if I (we) could wave a magic wand and have him polling 70%, that would be great. But he’s right where he needs to be.

  • Pingback: The Crossed Pond » What if Paul wins the nomination?()

  • oilnwater

    what I find most heartening about Paul’s stance is that when you boil down and condense the message given by every other competitor, you get inevitable military occupation of the mideast and a high chance of striking the region with nuclear weapons. EVENTUALLY saner heads will prevail on this outlook and Paul is the only one talking sense right now.

    On his economic policy, he actually knows something about economics in general and knows that Keynesian economics is bullshit. His intellect is so much more advanced over the other candidates that it’s frightening. and I think people are going to be exposed to the stupidity of Paul’s competitors more and more as debates flesh it out.

  • Anthony

    Craig’s 8:06pm post and Brad’s 1:20am post are both right on the money. The 4% Paul is polling at is to me no big deal when almost the entirety of the voters have probably not spent two seconds reviewing the candidates positions on issues and/or watching the debates.

    And on Brad’s post, keep one other thing in mind: we dont need Gulliani’s 30 million or Romney $30 million. They are spending that money to fight over the pro-war vote. We just need enough to get out Ron’s message against this war, which will take A LOT less than $30 million.

  • Rob

    Moving up to 4% is better than nothing, and it’s a little surprising that Paul should be running even with Huckabee given Huckabee’s 2nd place showing in the Iowa straw poll.

    But I still have to be very pessimistic about RP’s chances in Iowa and New Hampshire because he just isn’t campaigning there. Both of these states are anti-war, even among Republicans. They are small so that personal appearances draws lots of coverage and advertising is relatively cheap.

    They are ideal places for RP to try to jump-start his campaign, but he doesn’t seem to be trying. Instead, he’s running all over the country. Granted, much of this may be fund-raising, but unless he raises some pretty big bucks, I wonder how much it can compensate for his neglect of these two early state contests.

    I’ll be interested in seeing how well Paul’s campaign raises money for the third quarter. I’m not optimistic. They seem to be aiming at something like 10 million dollars. That’s no where near first-tier money. But that may have been only the goal for one month.

    The other problem is RP’s message. You can’t run on a 15-point platform. It’s too much for the public to absorb. Nor can you run on the gold standard. The public doesn’t understand it, and you haven’t got the time or resources to educate the public on Austrian Economics.

    RP needs a political, not an ideological, message. Two or three main issues would suffice. In the present context, he could probably even reduce it to a single anti-war message. But he still needs a practical anti-war program. “Just get out,” isn’t enough. He needs to show how his plan will not produce more difficult problems down the road.

  • Brad

    RP is campaigning in New Hampshire. I’m going up there to help in a week and a half. I think he’s actually planning to park himself there for most of the Fall. It won’t be ignored, trust me.

    10 million isn’t first tier money (though the McCain campaign announced today they’re expecting 3.7 million), but it essentially makes him competitive with the first tier. It would probably put him third (not counting Romney’s self-contributions). For a guy with the lowest overheads of any campaign running, and as Anthony pointed out for a guy whose spending doesn’t NEED to be 30 million to get over the top of the 8 other guys all saying the same thing, 10 million dollars would be a damn good problem to have.

  • Jeff Molby

    RP needs a political, not an ideological, message. Two or three main issues would suffice.

    – Humble foreign policy
    – Secure the borders
    – No income or inflation tax

    All tied together by the freedom ideology.

    Yes, we all know the platform is deeper than that and many of us focus on the deeper issues, byt if you listen to Dr. Paul from the perspective of an uninformed listener, you’ll notice that he is focusing his campaign on those issues.

    He’ll answer any question that’s asked of him, which is incredibly refreshing, but when he has an open mic, he’ll choose one of his main points.

  • Bob

    The Paul campaign will not raise $10M this quarter. I think I’m on safe ground when I write that it has never been the goal of the Paul campaign to raise $10M this quarter. Everything considered the campaign is doing a good job of fund raising don’t discredit them by setting unrealistically high goals.

  • js290
  • FullyAlive

    Wow, much of that is exactly what I was thinking about RP support too!!

    except 2 things:

    1.) You can’t count Laura Ingram’s reaction as a consequence really, b/c she is a hardcore scary neocon until the end and would disparage RP and his people no matter what.

    2.) Revolutionary costumes NEVER go out of vogue :))

  • Robert Standard

    I just heard that Drudge has declared the primary races essentially over, and that we will have a “Rudy versus Hillary” race.

    All the polls seem to indicate this. One look at the Trent lines at show Giuliani comfortably ahead, and all his trend lines with an uptick as a result of his recent NRA speech, and the attack on the NY Times “Betray us” ad.

    I’m a Fred-head. Fred is not doing as well, as I had hoped. I gotta admit, from here on out it’s going to be tough going against frontrunner Giuliani.

  • Bob

    I understand what the polls say, but I find it hard to believe that the GOP will nominate a pro-choice, pro-gun control candidate that has a spotty record on other issues.
    As for Fred, he needs to show some passion. His speeches aren’t getting anyone fired up.

  • Pingback: The Crossed Pond » The 2004 Primary Lesson()