So, there was the Iowa Straw Poll, which Mitt Romney spent $800 per vote on to get only 30% of the vote... and which Ron Paul came in fifth in with 10% of the vote, about 1,400 out of 14,000 votes cast.
There was another straw poll recently that wasn't covered by the press- the Illinois Straw Poll, held at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield by the Illinois Republican Party in an effort to raise enough money to survive through the utter annhiliation they're going to suffer in 2008.
Like in Iowa, these people paid $35 a head for the privilege of voting. Here's the result:
ROMNEY - 373 (40%)
FRED THOMPSON - 184 (20%)
RON PAUL - 174 (19%)
GIULIANI - 107 (11%)
McCAIN - 38 (4%)
HUCKABEE - 28 (3%)
BROWNBACK - 10 (1%)
HUNTER - 6 (<1%)
TANCREDO - 2 (<1%)
That's right- less than a thousand votes cast, as opposed to the 14,000+ in Iowa.
Although Romney is listed as the only candidate to have put any effort into the Illinois straw poll (and no candidate, including Romney, actually showed up), Ron Paul's campaign apparently did put forward an organized presence, suggesting a deliberate effort and investment on their part. From the article:
Paul's libertarian stylings and campaign of strict interpretation of the Constitution has earned him an unorthodox band of sign-carrying supporters. They frequently interrupted TV reports of the event and at one point, Romney's Illinois chairman, state Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Chenoa), ripped a sign out of one Paul supporter's hands and threw it on the ground.
This seems nice, but you should consider a parallel poll taken the same day- a much smaller one. Slightly less than half of Illinois' county Republican chairmen were also present for the straw poll, and they voted separately. The results reflect the current views of the political establishment in Illinois, at least on the Republican side:
FRED THOMPSON - 22
GIULIANI - 13
ROMNEY - 9
HUCKABEE - 2
McCAIN - 1
HUNTER - 1
RON PAUL - 0
BROWNBACK - 0
TANCREDO - 0
That's right: none of the 48 Republican county chairmen polled supports Ron Paul.
This is just one indicator of a factor which will utterly doom Ron Paul's run for the nomination: he has zero support in the Republican Party leadership.
Back in June a poll was done in New Hampshire on Republican candidates for President. Ron Paul jumped out of the less-than-1% bracket in that poll with a 3% showing... but... the same poll did a split between registered Republicans and independent voters responding to the survey. The registered Republicans shunned Paul- his support among them was statistically nil. The vast majority of Ron Paul's support comes from independents and line-crossing Democrats, not from the actual members of the party he seeks to represent.
Ron Paul's committed himself to a party that has rejected him- not only committed himself, but shouted out to others, especially Libertarian Party members, to join the GOP with him. Not only is he wasting his time in this effort, but he's destroying the libertarian movement- that is, the libertarian movement independent of the Republican Party- in the process. Even if he recruited every libertarian-minded person in America, he'd still lose the nomination- the Republican Party only nominates outsiders if they're generals.
Ron Paul is not the secret to winning respectability or "shaping the debate." The only way to make change in a libertarian direction is to get people elected to office. Ron Paul is not going to get nominated or elected President, and he certainly will not lift a finger to help Libertarian Party candidates get elected- in fact he'll work to squash them if they run against Republicans, no matter how bad the Republicans are. It's time to stop praising Ron Paul and to find our own Presidential candidate to represent small-government voters- like Ed Thompson, who if he runs will have my wholehearted support.