This falls into the day-dream category, but it's worth throwing out there.
Presume the Dem race is tight, for now, and goes all the way to the convention. The GOP race goes to the convention also. Sensing weakness and opportunity, Bloomberg throws his hat in the ring with a self-financed race. The Greens mount their own challenge for watermelon hegemony. Losing the final round of convention votes (with lots of knife wounds in the back) Ron Paul utters et tu GOP
and goes 3rd Party.
What a free for all that would be.
Ron Paul will enter the primaries and caucuses as the most viable GOP candidate.
He will have the most money on hand. The Tea Party 2007 was an enormous success, raising over $6 Million dollars in 24 hours. There are two weeks left in this quarter, and you can expect another year-end push to put him well over $20M. Note that campaigns will not be required to release their financial reports until mid-January. Winners like Dr. Paul will release data immediately. Laggards will wait to release the bad news until after the Iowa, New Hampshire, Wyoming, and Michigan decisions.
Dr. Paul is as frugal a campaigner as they come, without the drain of hordes of consultants and pollsters. Yet, because his campaign is open sourced,
it is far more adaptable to local issues than any top down campaign.
He has the most volunteers already signed up and on the ground. They are more geographically diverse, which is a fruit of the frugal campaign. The usual (dead) playbook is to spend beaucoup bucks in early states and hope more dollars and media attention pours in with early victories. Early on Dr. Paul's supporters realized they had to do it themselves, and lo and behold, order sprang from chaos. Pro-firearms freedoms areas focused on that issue. Pro-Peace areas focused their efforts on that issue. Think of it as an exercise in Marginal Utility: local private money, time, and effort, was spent how it would be most well received.
No other candidate has a volunteer network as geographically dispersed. Because the supporters couldn't rely on early campaign money to artificially create interest, the volunteer network is more geographically diverse than any other. With such an abbreviated primary schedule this year, having a broad campaign is more strategically important than in prior cycles.
What party hacks wearing GOP blinders have missed is that Ron Paul is re-building a coalition. Isn't that Successful Politics 101? Locally, at most, one-third of the his supporters are current GOP members. Ron Paul's chairman in Iowa reports a similar ratio. How is picking over the shriveled carcass of the Bush-atrophied GOP a plan for success?
It is superficial to argue that Dr. Paul doesn't have a strong enough showing in the polls to be a contender. There is plenty of analysis on the flawed methodology of how poll samples are taken. Just to give you one, a pollster may start with the definition of "likely GOP voter" as someone who voted in the 2004 Presidential Primary. Close enough for government work, but Bush ran unopposed in that election. Starting with that sample of Bush's die-hard dead-enders, it biases against a challenger with fresh ideas. I repeat that at least 2/3 of Dr. Paul's supporters are coming from outside the GOP, so any poll that starts with a pool of GOP voters understates his support by 2x-5x.
He is a ten-term Congressman elected from a gerrymandered District that is majority Democratic, and he knows how to not let partisanship and bickering get in the way. No other GOP presidential candidate can approach his combination of ideas, integrity, consistency, the dedication and number of his supporters, and now obvious to all, the money on hand to compete in the primaries.