Quietly, and very much under the radar, Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who no pundit believes has a serious chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination, is staging a bit of comeback, returning to his position as a solid No. 3 candidate in the GOP race.
According to the USA Today/Gallup poll released on Tuesday, Paul was at 13%, displacing Rep. Michele Bachmann, who fell to 5% and into a three-way dead heat with former House speaker Newt Gingrich and businessman Herman Cain. Bachmann, who won a straw poll in Iowa last month, had been as high as second place before Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race in August, upsetting the standings.
Paul’s latest showing mirrors what was seen in a recent CNN/ORC International poll in which Paul was also in third place with 13% of the vote. He was behind Perry, in the top slot in both polls, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, once the front-runner, but now in second place. For Paul, that jump to 13% represents a doubling of his support.
Paul’s resurgence shows the power of a candidate with a dedicated group of supporters, who will stick through thick or thin. As a libertarian icon, Paul has been running virtually the same campaign for more than 20 years, since he was the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1988. He has helped make the idea of smaller government, spending little and doing less, a popular mantra and an explosive political factor in 2010 and 2012.