Recent polling in Iowa indicates Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is a top-tier candidate here. Iowa State University political science professor Dave Peterson helped direct a poll which found Paul getting the support of 20 percent of the Iowa Republicans who were questioned.
“He is more of a front-runner than I think he gets credit for. I think he probably under-polls,” Peterson says. “Given what we know about polling, his supporters are younger, his supporters are more likely to reply on a cell phone. He’s probably going to perform better than his polling suggests.”
Seventeen-year-old Ben Keagle of St. Charles is part of what some call the Ron Paul Revolution.
“I think the younger people realize what position the nation is in and they think that he’s the only one that can get them,” Keagle says. “And he’s not like the rest of them that got us into the mess, but he’s the only one that can get us out.”
Jill Ellsworth, a licensed massage therapist from Grimes, started as a volunteer and is now a part-time employee of the campaign, making hundreds of calls to prospective Caucus-goers.
“I decided that the only candidate that I as an Iowan can trust to fix the crisis is the only candidate who predicted it and that’s Ron Paul,” Ellsworth said during a recent call.
Ron Paul has spent 24 years in congress, but Paul often reminds crowds he has never voted to raise taxes, has never voted to raise the debt ceiling and he didn’t vote for the Wall Street bailout.
“We’ve had too many in Washington that didn’t care or didn’t understand and didn’t follow the constitution,” Paul said during a recent speech here. “If we send only people to Washington that know and understand the constitution and live within the confines of the constitution, we can solve our problems quickly.”
Peterson, the Iowa State professor, says there appears to be a ceiling for Paul because Iowans who say they’re supporting another candidate rarely list Paul as their second choice.
“He’s so much of an ideologue that sometimes he says things that are just going to turn off some voters like, ‘It’s not a big deal if Iran gets a nuclear weapon,’ the criticisms of Reagan,” Peterson says. “Those are things that a lot of voters are not going to find acceptable.”
Paul, who is 76, would be the oldest candidate to win the Iowa Caucuses if he can pull off a victory on January 3rd. Bob Dole was 72 when he won the 1996 Iowa Caucuses. Ronald Reagan was 73 years old in 1984, but Reagan — as president — was unopposed in that year’s Republican Caucuses.