Ron Paul Beats Fred and Rudy in Michigan

Nolan Chart
Wednesday January 16, 2008

Watching the Michigan returns come in on CNN and Fox News, it was clear that Ron Paul wasn't going to get more than about 7% and finish in fourth placed after Romney, McCain, and Huckabee. For a candidate that wasn't worthy to get an invitation to the Fox News debate before the New Hampshire primary, he finished ahead of two other candidates who did.

In a previous article, I mentioned that there is a Ron Paul Mendoza Line, where a candidate must at least beat Ron Paul, or should consider getting out. As of tonight, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and Duncan Hunter have all fallen below that line. Unlike Paul, with his fanatical grassroots supporters, these candidates do not have backers who will raise millions of dollars in a single day to keep a second-place or worse finish going. Even Mike Huckabee ought to be bleeding at the edges of his campaign coffers by now. We'll know at the end of the month when the FEC reports come out. Paul and Romney are the only ones with the cash to keep going beyond Feb 5--even if they don't win another state by then.

Before Super Tuesday, there are just a few states to go. These candidates need to win one by then, or may have to go home.

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Thompson is probably putting all his eggs in a South Carolina basket. He has stiff competition from Huckabee. It will be a battle between who is most Southern. Will it be the preacher-governor from Arkansas or the attorney-actor-Senator from Tennessee? At, John McCain has been surging there lately. But Huckabee has polled ahead of Thompson consistently since November.

Giuliani has two states where he can make a last stand: Nevada and Florida. Giuliani pulled his office out of Michigan in a frugal move when it became clear that he couldn't win the state. It may be paying off. In Florida, he's in a four-way tie with the top three finishers from Michigan. But Thompson and Paul aren't far behind. He had Nevada to himself, until McCain's recent surge.

Although Duncan Hunter is still on ballots, he really needs to decide where to make a graceful exit. He has to figure out when to write the last campaign paycheck or apply for matching funds. There are just so many stops he can make on frequent flyer miles. He made his point with building the fence in San Diego. He's still pushing his trade message, which the other candidates need to incorporate. "Mirror Trade" seems much more fair than the current system. He might want to negotiate a cabinet position for an endorsement.

So where does that put Ron Paul? He needs to make some serious staff changes. He's got to get his message out to convert "normal" voters to his point of view. Fast. His rabid internet minions will follow him up to and through the gates of hell--even the atheists. He's got to get beyond some of us economic nerds who let out a war whoop every time he advocates getting rid of the Federal Reserve and the IRS. Huckabee's Michigan concession speech last night came right out of Ron Paul's press releases. When the candidates want to look economically conservative, they cherry pick Paul's platform. Maybe James Carville is available for a consult? His recent free advice seems spot-on with the three GOP winners so far. Ron Paul's got to place at least third in a state or two before Feb. 5.

We'll see who's left standing Feb 6. It will be a long fight to the convention by those who can win a few states on Super Tuesday, and have some cash on hand.

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