A fascinating poll put out last week by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson is polling at 11% in his home state of New Mexico. The libertarian leaning Johnson, who was Governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003, has views that align closely with presidential candidate Ron Paul. Johnson openly supported Paul in the 2008 Republican primary. Johnson even spoke at the large rally Paul held in St. Paul in 2008. In the same poll Paul received 8%, which is below his national average of 10%.
The interesting portion of the poll however is the breakdown of the self described moderate vote. Johnson crushes the competition in the moderate column with 26% in the field of eight with 10% undecided. Paul received only 7% from the moderate voters.
Another interesting aspect of the poll were the second choices for Johnson and Paul voters. Paul voters chose Johnson as their second choice 33% of the time, or 3 times more than any other candidate. While only 11% of Johnson voters chose Paul as their second choice. When you put these numbers in the context of the numbers that have been coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire in the last week things begin to look very interesting for Ron Paul.
In the states where Ron Paul has been in control of his message through a well organized ground game and large ad buys, namely Iowa and New Hampshire, he is doing extraordinarily well. In states such as New Mexico, where he relies on broadcast media's portrayal of him to win over voters he can barely crack double digits. But the key in New Mexico is that Gary Johnson's message is a hit with moderates but only because they saw how Johnson govern their state for the eight years he was in office.
The biggest addition to the Paul campaign in this cycle are the slick television ads. The Paul campaign has been able to effectively control their message by purchasing time for ads on everything from Paul's plan to cut $1 trillion in his first year as President to his pro life stance to accusing Newt Gingrich of hypocrisy.
The Paul campaign has raised (as I write) $3.5 million this weekend alone. A big chunk of that will likely go toward broadcast ad buys. Bob Wilkens wrote an article a few weeks back saying that television ads may be what breaks Ron Paul through with his toughest critics, namely elderly voters. The same is true of so-called independent and moderate voters. Once they hear Paul's message from straight from Ron Paul his poll numbers benefit.
If Paul is able to fundraise off of a win or place in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the ceiling on his national numbers could start to dissolve with the ability to purchase more and more large market broadcast ad buys.
The floor of Paul's support is as important as the perceived ceiling when it comes to his national numbers. Anything short of a disaster in Iowa and New Hampshire will be fundraising booms for Paul. There is a huge upside and not a large downside risk when it comes to his fundraising capability in relation to his performance in the first two states, so I will be watching how the Paul campaign attempts to control expectations leading up to the first two states. I will also be watching how establishment outlets try to hedge their bets and perhaps raise expectations for Paul to beyond the attainable.
About the Author: Shaun Booth is editor of MilwaukeeStory.com.