In a poll released a couple of days ago by Public Policy Polling, Ron Paul has emerged as the leader among prospective Iowa voters. Paul is polling at 23%, trailed by Mitt Romney at 20%. Newt Gingrich, who was the front-runner in Iowa a few weeks ago, has taken a hit in the polls recently and is currently polling in third.
A recent New York Times article notes that the Paul campaign has essentially been in place, but dormant, after he dropped out of the race in '08. The veteran volunteers, along with a web-based calling system, have helped keep the campaign organized in Iowa.
Paul has come under scrutiny in the last few days, however, for some racist, anti-gay, and anti-Israel remarks attributed to him in the early nineties. The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication, included Paul's remarks in its latest issue.
It's unclear whether Paul's momentum will translate into a win in Iowa when it comes time for the state's caucuses on January 3rd. KUT News spoke with Reid Wilson, editor-in-chief of National Journal's Hotline two weeks ago about Paul's surge, and Wilson didn't seem too optimistic for the Paul campaign.
"On the face of it, Ron Paul should be in the conversation with Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, but you’ve got to look deeper than that," Wilson said. "Ron Paul has a hard ceiling in the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary, and everywhere else around the country. He is not the traditional kind of Republican that we’ve seen in recent years and that means that he doesn’t have a lot of fans outside of his own base.”
Across the board, pundits note that Ron Paul will benefit from winter weather in Iowa. Art Sanders, a professor of political science at Drake University in Iowa, recently spoke with KUT's political reporting partner, The Texas Tribune.
"The worse the weather is, the better for someone like Ron Paul,” Sanders said, “because he’ll have passionate supporters who still come out.”