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Washington Post - Ron Paul : The Butler Bulldogs Of Presidential Politics

Washington Post - Ron Paul : The Butler Bulldogs Of Presidential Politics

Butler, you may recall, is the second-tier — a.k.a. “mid-major” — college basketball program that made the NCAA Final Four two straight years in 2010 and 2011, only to lose in the National Championship game to storied programs from Duke and Connecticut.

Similarly, the Texas congressman made the Final Four in the presidential race this year, exceeded expectations, and even came close to winning the big game in Iowa.
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) talks to supporters during a rally Saturday, March 10, in Springfield, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

But then, reality set in. While Paul has had a great campaign season for a “mid-major” candidate, things have certainly tailed off in recent weeks, and it’s clear that Paul is still missing something that the Dukes and the UConns and the Mitt Romneys of this world have: staying power.

Paul, whose campaign doubled its vote total from 2008 in 12 of the first 19 contests he participated in this year, has failed to do that in the last five contests for which there is a comparable result between 2008 and 2012.

After cracking double digits in all but two contests through February, he’s finished below 10 percent in seven states this month and four of the last five states.

Mississippi’s primary earlier this month was the first contest this year in which he failed to improve upon his 2008 showing. Just like four years ago, he took 4 percent — his worst showing of the 2012 campaign so far.

Things don’t look like they will rebound any time soon. Paul has spent considerably less time on the campaign trail since Super Tuesday, his super PAC support appears to be drying up, and his campaign’s focus on performing well in caucuses doesn’t work so well in the second half of the campaign, when all but two contests are primaries.

The practical effect of Paul’s campaign has been pretty minimal as well. While his campaign has talked a lot about being a player at the convention, right now he is projected to have won 50 delegates, which is higher than the approximately 30-35 delegates he won in 2008 but still far from being a contender when you consider that there are more than 2,000 delegates available.

That said, the campaign’s inability to continue its momentum shouldn’t take away from the improvement it showed. Like the Butler Bulldogs, it beat expectations and turned itself into a player in the presidential process — someone that people had to talk about.

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