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Opinion: Don't Be Surprised When Ron Paul Wins Iowa

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A new  Public Policy poll released Sunday shows that presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has fallen to third place in the nation's first nominating state, ceding ground to Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, who leads with 23 percent.

According to The Daily Mail: 

Newt Gingrich's meteoric rise in the race for the Republican presidential nomination has come back to earth, as a new poll released Sunday pits Ron Paul as the expected winner of the upcoming Iowa caucus. The Public Policy Polling data bumped Mr. Gingrich down to third place, with Mr. Paul winning the majority with 23 per cent, followed closely by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney with 20 per cent. Mr. Gingrich, who last week was touting the fact that he was expected to win the vital first primary, now only has 14 per cent of Republican voters, according to the PPP poll.

I have been watching the unfolding drama of the Iowa caucuses for 41 years and the 2012 caucuses since the start of the political season, which was roughly two years ago!

As each contender rose to the top a further examination by the media and Iowa GOP likely caucus participants revealed less than perfect individuals.

Starting with Donald Trump, which was a no brainer; no I mean literally, to Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and then Gingrich snafu’s quickly created reservations and the produced a taking of an other for in the arduous road to January 3 towards another and hopefully more promising contender.

Mitt Romney was the only one to stay relatively steady in the polls and the PPP poll has him slightly below the 25% where he had been but not plunging.

Gingrich has been in a stratosphere, over 40 percent in some polls and in a strong first place in Iowa for several weeks. The question was always “Did he peak to early?” The answer is “Yes!” All the baggage about him spilled into the public attention too early and in such quantity that the shine quickly came off his candidacy. The attacks from within the leadership of the GOP I think were especially telling for many who didn’t remember too much about him. His interesting but flammable pronouncements on some issues such as hauling judges before Congress with a police escort probably were a bit too provocative for the older and … well … CONSERVATIVE Iowa caucus attendees!

Ron Paul is NOT a surprise front-runner, at least for me. He won the Ames Straw Poll; well he tied with Bachmann for first place with only a few votes separating them, which the media could not report because there has to be just one winner.

Ron Paul has drawn huge and passionate crowds, which the media could not report because Paul was not one of the “viable” front-runners who could get the nomination. A reporter from NPR who was at the Iowa State university rally a few weeks ago reported that “a few hundred’ had attended when the number was well over 1,000 cross verified to me by three official sources.

Ron Paul has been running the most aggressive and brutal attack ads against Newt Gingrich and some of the best-crafted political ads I have ever seen. So Paul was the first “Dragon slayer” against Newt as one old timer called it.

Ron Paul made fun of the candidates who made the Pilgrimage to Donald Trump asking when Trump was given the power of laying on of hands for the candidates. He also immediately and publicly rejected Trump’s publicity stunt of hosting and being the chief interrogator at a final debate.

All of this got him a great deal of traction.

His neo-isolationism may not seem to be mainstream with the media or GOP conservatives but at least 25 percent of Iowa Republicans agree with it. They are as tired of the 1 trillion dollar costs, the dead and wounded, and suffering of civilians in these war zones, and the aggressive US foreign policy doctrines. You can go to a Ron Paul event and ask people which is what the media should be doing instead of sitting in a coffee shop talking to students who may or may not be going to a caucus as John King from CNN did the other day here in Ames, Iowa.

And, while Rick Perry wants to eliminate three federal agencies Ron Paul has always said five and his latest ad, which is very, VERY well produced actually blows up those five “that’s how Ron Paul rolls!” the ad says as a big animated semi roars off the screen.

Paul is pro life, for smaller government, a “founding father” of the Tea Party movement, and a politician, as I’ve written, who people say “would never steal a dime or take a bribe” as one Republican friend (who supports Santorum) said to me over coffee. Ron Paul is also seen as the least flip-flopping of the candidates (maybe Santorum and Bachmann equal him on this score), which counts for a great deal this year.

Can Ron Paul win the Iowa caucuses? You betcha! All he has to do is get more votes on January 3 than any of the others. With seven contenders still standing up he can be first with as alittle as 23 percent, which he now has.

Steffen Schmidt is professor of political science at Iowa State University, blogs for the Des Moines Register and is chief political correspondent for