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Ron Paul poll shocker: He beats Obama head-to-head

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(Read caption) Republican presidential candidate, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, meets with supporters at the Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit, Monday.

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How about this for a poll shocker: While everybody in US politics has been preoccupied with the Michigan primary, Ron Paul has sneaked up on President Obama and for the first time leads the incumbent in a head-to-head survey.

That’s right, leads – as in, ahead of, out front, winning, and so forth. According to a Rasmussen Reports poll released Tuesday, at the moment Representative Paul bests Mr. Obama in a head-to-head matchup by 43 to 41 percent.

The same poll has Mitt Romney tied with Obama, at 44 percent each. Rick Santorum is three points behind the president, according to Rasmussen, and Newt Gingrich is 10 points behind.

Wow. Paul is outperforming all the other GOP candidates, by this measure. His campaign is spinning this as evidence he’s the most electable of all.

“In order to win back the White House, Republicans must nominate a consistent candidate that offers something besides the status quo. Ron Paul is that candidate,” said national campaign chairman Jesse Benton in a statement on the Rasmussen results.

Well, we hate to be the bearer of cold water, but we’ve got a couple of comments to make on this.

First, one poll does not a white-haired Texas libertarian president make. As we said, this is the only head-to-head matchup to this point that shows Paul beating Obama. The RealClearPolitics rolling average of such polls still has Paul behind by a little over seven points.

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Plus it’s, you know, hypothetical. Paul is not actually running against Obama at the moment. And the polls that have to do with him getting to that point aren’t so positive at the moment.

In the RealClearPolitics poll average of the four GOP contenders, Paul remains in fourth, as the choice of 12 percent of Republican voters. He’s not outperforming that figure in any big March 6 Super Tuesday states, either. In Ohio, he’s at 10.7 percent. In Georgia, he’s at 8.8 percent. He’s doing a bit better in Tennessee, at 15 percent in a recent Vanderbilt University poll, but that’s still good for only third place.

Of course, there is always the chance that Paul can take a few delegates in Tuesday’s Michigan primary. State rules allocate two delegates to the winner of each congressional district, and it’s possible that Paul could win in districts that include the University of Michigan and Michigan State. (He’s big with young people, in case you didn’t know.)

And the Washington caucuses are March 3. They’ll be another test of Paul’s strategy of focusing his energy, money, and organization on caucus states.

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