Libertarian darling and Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R) is having a good couple of months. First, he wins the CPAC straw poll on Feb 20. Then he loses to presumed GOP 2012 presidential front runner Mitt Romney by just one vote at the SRLC straw poll earlier this month. Then came today, when a new poll shows he’s neck and neck with President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 matchup.
The new Rasmussen poll shows Obama ahead of Paul by just one point, 41-42 when the two are paired up in a 2012 race. The poll has a 3% margin of error.
It’s nearly impossible for Paul to win his party’s presidential nomination. And as with all presidential polls this early, the results are meaningless as a predictor of how Obama will perform when he runs for reelection in two years. But this Rasmussen poll is just another sign that he still has strong national support amongst a core group of Republicans thanks to his unique brand of libertarianism.But the poll of 1000 people nationwide suggests that Paul is still not a mainstream national figure. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of him, while 30% have an unfavorable view. Even after a well-covered and popular grassroots run for president in 2008, 32% of respondents said they were “unsure” about their opinion of him.
The Rasmussen poll was taken among registered voters nationwide. Not surprisingly, most were unable to form an opinion of Paul’s role in the GOP. Just 21% called him a “divisive force” in the Republican Party, while 34% said he represents “a new direction” for the party. Forty-five percent said they weren’t sure.
Should Paul decide to run for president again, the straw poll results suggest he still has the grassroots support to gain at least the level of traction he had in 2008. It’s clear that some Republicans are still interested in him, especially with a current Republican field of 2012 candidates that has failed to produce a single breakout star. Still, there’s essentially no chance Obama and Paul would ever meet in a general election, despite Paul’s recent momentum.