Not only did Ron Paul place second in the Iowa straw poll, he’s also been pulling in some respectable national polling numbers during the last few weeks. According to his RealClearPolitics average, he’s in a virtual dead heat with Michele Bachmann, and he even leads her in several polls.
But while the media treats Bachmann like a serious frontrunner, devoting significant time and resources covering her campaign, Paul has received far less coverage. According to his supporters, this is a testament to his appeal as a candidate: he’s been able to secure a top position in the race, despite the fact his message hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.
But could the lack of press have actually helped him? At Politico, Ben Smith writes Paul’s success might be due to the fact his libertarian ideas haven’t been spotlighted by the media:
I think there’s a pretty good case to be made that Paul is boosted, not undermined, by the glancing coverage. Many of his supporters, of course, believe that his variety full-throated libertarianism would win the day if only given a platform, but I haven’t seen much evidence in American politics at any level that that’s the case.
Smith makes a good point. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter what’s behind Paul’s decent showing in the polls. He will never be taken seriously by the media, because he was already destroyed as a candidate in 2008. James Kirchick’s devastating New Republic article – which exposed the racism and homophobia printed for years in Paul’s newsletters – shattered any remnant of Paul’s credibility.
News coverage of the primaries is basically a mad dash for gaffes, controversial associations, alliances and feuds. But who cares if Paul makes another unhinged statement about Iran on the campaign trail? He once published newsletters that claimed gay people were attempting to poison the blood supply and referred to Black History Day as “Hate Whitey Day.” Is there really any need to dig further?
There are some scandals you just don’t bounce back from in politics. This is one of them.