Ron Paul managed to meet, maybe even slightly exceed, his opinion polls in Iowa, coming away with about 10% of the vote. That, unfortunately for Rondroids, is about the only good news to come from Iowa for the Paul campaign. Paul finished fifth, ahead of only Rudy Giuliani (who had abandoned Iowa over a month ago) and Duncan Hunter (who has virtually no money and no campaign organization, and thus no votes).
CNN did entrance polls for the Iowa caucuses- a useful tool for dissecting Ron Paul's support, or lack thereof. Although Iowa is a battleground state, its Republican make-up matches that of the western "red states"- overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly evangelist. In this sense, Iowa will reflect well how Ron Paul can be expected to do in other primary states- or, more likely, the best he can expect to do.
First, let's look at the subsections of the entrance poll Ron Paul did best in: Bush-haters and independents. Ron Paul gets a clear majority of voters who are angry about the Bush administration. However, such voters only made up 5% of the turnout in Iowa. Voters who are only dissatisfied with Bush, about one-quarter of the Republican caucus voters, favored Huckabee, Romney, and McCain over Paul. Most important, though, two-thirds of Republican caucus voters were either satisfied or enthusiastic about Bush- which means two-thirds of the Republican Party is pretty much closed to Ron Paul's message.
(And let's pause a moment to think about what that means: two-thirds of Republicans support Guantanamo, support torture, support wars of aggression, and support the concept of president as elected monarch. Think about that with this article in mind. These are people who no longer see torture, indefinite imprisonment, the revocation of essential liberties, and the undermining of free government as wrong. Indeed, they see all these things as beneficial. If I refer to the GOP as the Party of Evil henceforth, you may now understand why.)
The other group Ron Paul won was independents- narrowly. Paul only got 29% of the independent vote, with John McCain following at 23%. What's more, independents and other non-Republicans only made up 14% of the total vote at the caucus. The other 86% was registered Republicans, of whom Ron Paul got only 7%. States which do not allow independents or crossover voting in their primaries and caucuses- like, for example, the Wyoming caucuses tomorrow- will eliminate Paul's independent support.
And if that wasn't bad enough... independents and et cetera were only 14% of about 110,000 Republican voters; call it 16,000 voters. On the other hand, the Democratic caucus had over 230,000 voters... one-quarter of whom were either independent or Republican. Call it 58,000.
That's a total of 74,000 independent voters, give or take a couple thousand... who are going 4-1 Democrat. That's four no-Republican-under-any-circumstances votes to each one Republican-who-may-or-may-not-be-Ron-Paul vote.
No, let's put it this way instead: out of 74,000 independent voters, Ron Paul only got about 4,000, or about 6%.
Which is slightly worse than his support among Republicans.
Now, let's look at some other categories the poll covered.
Ron Paul did very well among voters who thought recent events in Pakistan (Bhutto's assassination, the state of emergency, Musharif's purge of the supreme court) were unimportant... but he still finished behind Huckabee, 38-37%. Furthermore, only 4% of the caucus voters thought Pakistan unimportant. The more important people thought Pakistan was- and nearly half of the Republicans thought it very important indeed- the worse Ron Paul did.
Ron Paul was strongest among the youngest age group, 17-29, mostly first-time caucus goers. This was only 11% of the Republican field, though, as opposed to 22% on the Democratic side. (And, again, remember that more than twice as many Iowans voted Democrat as Republican.) Outside this group, Paul polled from 7% to 9%; inside it, he only polled 21%, beaten by both Romney and Huckabee.
Most interesting: the richer the voter, the less likely they were to support Ron Paul. Except for the very lowest income level, the poorer a voter is, the more likely he or she is to consider Ron Paul. The well-off ($100,000 and up) reject him pretty soundly... which may come as a surprise to people who call big-L Libertarians a bunch of rich greedy white people. In practice, Libertarians are generally not rich; they're poor or middle-class people deeply dissatisfied with how the system isn't working for them. The CNN poll supports this... and, at the same time, shows that the big money in the GOP itself is running like a rabbit away from him.
So, what's the lesson? First, Ron Paul's message is not selling inside the GOP itself, a supermajority of whom like all the things Paul opposes. Second, Paul is highly dependent on independent voters, but he's only getting a tiny fraction of them... in no small part because independents are voting Democratic overwhelmingly in 2008.
And finally... let's compare the Republican and Democrat poll returns in several key areas, shall we? Democrats outpolled Republicans over two to one, recruited young voters by two to one, and attracted independents by four to one. Republicans polled nearly 90% conservative, 10% moderate, no liberal (and Ron Paul's support was mainly moderates, despite his claims to be deeply conservative); Democrats polled only 54% liberal, 40% moderate, and 6% conservative, showing a broader base of support. Most telling, income levels among voters in both parties were roughly equal in proportion... meaning the GOP doesn't even hold the money advantage it had not all that long ago.
Not only does Ron Paul not have the support base required to win the nomination- or even win a single primary or caucus- but the party he continues to support doesn't have the support base to win the 2008 elections, should these trends continue. Ron Paul, and the Republicans, are doomed doomed doomed doomed DOOMED... and they have only themselves, and George W. Bush, to blame for it.
I expect similar polling in New Hampshire to show Democrats again overwhelmingly outpolling Republicans; the state's flipped back and forth the past few general elections.
My attention will be more on the polling for South Carolina, though. If the Democratic primaries get more votes than the Republicans there, in one of the reddest red states, then we can pretty safely expect a national landslide for the Democrats...