In his latest blog post, electoral prognosticator Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight discussed the Republican presidential primary race in Iowa like it was really about two men. No, not Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Instead, Silver placed his bets on Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

The latest polls have Gingrich with approximately 25 percent and Paul and Romney with approximately seventeen percent, but “if I were setting odds as of this morning,” Silver wrote, “I might assign Mr. Gingrich about a 45 or 50 percent chance of winning Iowa, followed by Mr. Paul at 25 percent and Mr. Romney at 15 percent . . .”

As Paul told CNN’s Candy Crowley, he’s not the flavor of the week or month, but rather, the “flavor of the decade.” A great line (which, according to some, he’s full of), and yet, as Amanda Sakuma of the Houston Chronicle‘s Texas on the Potomac blog pointed out, Crowley also noted that those same polls show that only four percent of Republicans think Paul can beat President Obama.
Even as Paul’s core positions inspire great loyalty among his own supporters, those same positions probably won’t inspire the Republican base.
“Ron Paul isn’t getting any traction among the Republican primary voters,” the blog What Do I Know opined, “because for most of them, whatever the US does is right.”
And Brad Knickerbocker of the Christian Science Monitor piled on, writing:
It’s hard to imagine a Republican Party presidential candidate these days who would not support a constitutional ban on abortion, would cut defense spending by nearly a billion dollars, would shutter at least a half dozen departments of federal government, would leave it to religions (and not government) to define marriage, or who would end all US aid to Israel.
This YouTube ad from the Paul-supporting Revolution SuperPAC is one example of this. It’s tailor-made for young anti-war voters who share Paul’s view that President Obama hasn’t been much better than President Bush when it comes to bringing home the troops, arguing that the War on Terror and the United States’ presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is the equivalent of China occupying Texas. 

Paul’s views could also alienate people from the other end of the political spectrum.

Gary Weiss of Salon warned Paul’s left-wing constituents—people who might vote for him instead of President Obama in a general election—to be skeptical.
Last month in New Hampshire, after Occupy protestors “mic checked” a Paul campaign appearance, Paul said “if you listen carefully, I’m very much involved with the 99. I’ve been condemning that one percent because they’ve been ripping us off.”
But Weiss, who views Paul from the perspective of someone who is about to publish a critical biography of Ayn Rand, said that in reality, Paul is a “fraudulent populist, friend of the oligarchy, sworn enemy of every social program since Theodore Roosevelt . . . A Ron Paul America would make the Reagan Revolution look like the New Deal.”