Friday, January 4, 2008

Looking at the Ron Paul Numbers

There has been some question about the extent to which the passion of Ron Paul's support would equate to actual poll numbers. Looking at the CNN entrance polls, I find some interesting data about this.

It seems Paul did exceedingly well amongst voters who decided who to vote for at least a month ago, getting the third most votes in that category, around 15%. That is about triple his polling support from that time frame. While still only good for 5th best, he also managed about 13% of the vote amongst people who decided who to vote for today. He did poorest amongst voters who decided who to vote for between yesterday and a month ago.

So- what does this mean? First, it means that his core group of supporters turned out in droves; the meetup group organization paid off as well as anyone could have expected. Second it suggests that his speakers at the caucuses were quite effective. Third, it suggests that his campaign's appeal peaked in late November. I don't know if this means the Alex Jones appearance became too much public knowledge, if it was "that" donation, if it was overzealousness on the part of some supporters, if it was just an issue of oversaturation by December, or if the people who made up their minds during that period were primarily people who originally supported Rudy (and would thus never be likely to support Paul). Given Paul's relative support amongst independents, it's also possible that Obama's ability to draw independents to the Dem caucus took away some of Paul's would-be support from this group. It's probably a little bit of all of these, but my suspicion is that the oversaturation issue and the Rudy factor were the primary factors at work here. From my understanding, overzealousness would be less an issue in Iowa than it would in New Hampshire, which is a much smaller state both area-wise and population-wise.

New Hampshire has also been a much more intense focus for grassroots efforts, so I suspect Iowa would not be the state where the overzealousness question would most come into play. If overzealousness played a more prominent role in limiting Paul's support, it would have manifested itself in a lower vote total amongst people who decided who to support today. I say that because the likely effect of overzealousness is to turn people completely off from your message; Paul's reasonably good showing amongst this subgroup suggests that a pretty good number of people were still willing to hear his message today.