The probability of Ron Paul winning the Republican nomination was zero in 2011 and remains so today, but Paul is running a remarkable campaign, so remarkable that in head-to-head match ups with the President, Paul does better than Gingrich, Santorum, and Perry and as well or better than Romney.
Public Policy Polling yesterday had the President defeating both Romney and Paul respectively by 49 to 44 and 47 to 42, while the President defeated Gingrich by 7, Santorum by 8, and Perry by 11.
Paul and Romney were both within 5 points, but Paul's mix of ending wars, slashing defense and other spending, legalizing drugs resonates best with voters who are under 30 and white, a key demographic for President Obama.
While a Romney versus Obama election will follow conventional political battle lines in this closely divided country, Ron Paul scrambles the electorate in a way that might make him the President's toughest opponent in these times. These Obama versus Paul polling numbers are a real triumph for Ron Paul and his message, the "cause of liberty" in his words.
Paul is not fringe anymore, despite the viciously racist Paul newsletters that were printed over many years and from which Paul made substantial income. He is the powerful wild card of the political deck.
The Republicans will not select Paul and probably will stick with this month's version of Governor Romney who has a terrible 35 to 53 favorable-unfavorable rating in the PPP poll, a real red flag for the GOP. But what will Paul do?
Ron Paul cannot make Governor Romney President, but he is the only person that alone can re-elect President Obama. If Paul runs a third party campaign, or possibly even if Paul strongly endorses the Libertarian candidate who may be former Governor Johnson of New Mexico, if not Paul himself, Paul will give the President a second term.
Paul has built Libertarianism so that its supporters today are more numerous than Nader's were in 2000. Nader caused both Florida and New Hampshire to end up in George Bush's electoral vote total. Paul has real power to shape not just opinion but national election outcomes.
More than any other single person, including Romney and Obama, Ron Paul could write the ending to the 2012 political drama. That is an amazing fact.