Ron Paul's latest win in a Republican straw poll shows the importance of intensity in presidential politics. Paul, a congressman from Texas, won a California Republican party straw poll of presidential preference on Saturday night with 44.9 percent of the vote. Texas Gov. Rick Perry was second with 29.3 percent; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was third with 8.8 percent. and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota was fourth at 7.7 percent. The remaining candidates were far behind.
The trouble with making any sweeping conclusions is that only about 800 people participated in the poll and other candidates didn't seriously compete. Paul's nearly 45 percent amounted to 374 actual votes. Perrry had 244, Romney 74, and Bachmann 64. The results aren't much of an indicator of which candidate has the most GOP support in California or across the nation.
But the results do show something else--that within small universes of GOP voters, libertarian Paul remains a formidable force. He earlier won a straw poll sponsored by a conservative political action committee and he came in second to Bachmann in an Iowa straw poll.
If Paul's supporters maintain this type of intensity, he could do well in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses early next year even though he is lagging in national and state polls. Iowa's caucuses allow relatively small numbers of committed voters to make a big difference in actually selecting delegates to the Republican National Convention.