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No less than ten Republican hopefuls in the 2008 White House race participated in the first national GOP debate last Thursday, May 3. Even before the 90-minute debate had concluded, media pundits were declaring that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney had won.
Even my friend, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough wrote, "During the debate I was flooded by e-mails from Republican activists and voters who told me Romney was dominating the debate." Scarborough went on to say, "Among those Red State Republicans (who will elect their party's next nominee), Mitt Romney won while McCain and Giuliani failed to meet expectations."
As with most political pundits, the entire focus of the debate centered on only three contenders: Arizona Senator John McCain, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Romney. In fact, in his post-debate summary, Scarborough's only reference to anyone other than these three names was a fleeting mention of the "Sam Brownbacks of the world."
Yet, when one looks at MSNBC's own poll, a much different picture emerges. According to this poll, there was a clear winner alright, but his name was not McCain, Giuliani, or Romney. It was Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
Consider the before and after polls, as they appear on MSNBC's web site. See it at:
The after-debate poll numbers for six of the "lesser" contenders were almost identical to the before-debate numbers. Almost identical. I'm speaking of Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, and Tommy Thompson. It is safe to say, that none of these men obtained any significant support as a result of their debate performance. However, the same is not true for Ron Paul.
Before the debate, Paul's polling numbers had a negative rating of 47%. His neutral number was 44%, and his positive number was a paltry 9%.
Compare those numbers with those of the three media favorites, McCain, Giuliani, and Romney.
John McCain's pre-debate polling numbers included a negative rating of 40%. His neutral number was 29%, and his positive rating was 31%. Rudy Giuliani's pre-debate poll numbers included a negative rating of 34%, a neutral rating of 25%, and a positive rating of 41%. Mitt Romney's pre-debate negative number stood at 41%. His neutral number was 31%, and his positive number stood at 28%.
Obvious to just about anyone is that Rudy Giuliani took a commanding lead into the first GOP debate. His positive number eclipsed his closest rival by more than ten percentage points.
However, everything changed immediately following the debate. Giuliani's positive number fell from 41% to a pitiful 24%. His negative number rose from 34% to 42%. And his neutral number rose from 25% to 34%. Clearly, Rudy Giuliani lost a lot of support in that first debate.
What about John McCain? Once again, his debate performance did not help his campaign. In this regard, Joe Scarborough has it right.
McCain's positive rating fell from a pre-debate high of 31% to a post-debate low of 19%. His neutral rating jumped from 29% to 37%.
Remember, media pundits seem to agree that Mitt Romney was the big debate winner. So, how do his numbers stack up?
Romney's post-debate positive rating DROPPED from a pre-debate high of 28% to 27%. His negative number also fell slightly from 41% to 37%. And Romney's neutral number rose from 31% to 36%. I ask you, Do those numbers reflect victory? I think not.
Compare the numbers of McCain, Giuliani, and Romney to those of Ron Paul's. Remember, before the debate, Paul scored a dismal 9% positive score. But after the debate, Paul's positive score skyrocketed to an astounding 38%. In other words, Ron Paul's positive number is eleven percentage points higher than his closest rival. Paul's negative number went from a pre-debate high of 47% to a post-debate low of 26%. His neutral number also dropped significantly from 44% to 36%.
Without question or reservation, Ron Paul was the clear and obvious winner of the first GOP debate, at least according to the more than eighty-four thousand respondents (at the time of this writing) who took the MSNBC online poll.
Which leads to another question: Are the media elite watching the same debate that the rest of us are watching or are they looking at something else? I think they are looking at something else. And that something else is money.
They see only the GOP's "Big Three" as having the potential to raise $50 million-plus for their respective presidential campaigns. That means, in their minds, all others are also-rans who have no chance to win and are therefore ignored. And let's face it folks, when it comes to Washington politics, there are only three considerations that even register with big-media: money, money, and money.
However, make no mistake about it: Ron Paul clearly and convincingly won the first GOP debate. It would be nice if someone in the mainstream media would acknowledge that fact.
In addition, someone in the mainstream media should ask why Ron Paul did so well in post-debate polling, because I predict that Paul's upcoming performance in South Carolina on May 15 will be equally spectacular. He may even emerge from that debate as a serious challenger for the nomination. I personally hope he does.
Ron Paul is the only candidate on the Republican ticket who would seriously challenge the status quo of the neocons currently running our country into the ground. He has a voting record unlike anyone in Congress.
As has been reported by many, Ron Paul has never voted to raise taxes, has never voted for an unbalanced budget, has never voted for a federal registration on gun ownership, has never voted to raise congressional pay, has never taken a government-paid junket, and has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch of the federal government. Furthermore, he voted against the Patriot Act and was one of only a handful of congressmen that voted against the Iraq War.
Furthermore, it was Ron Paul who introduced the Sanctity of Human Life bill in Congress, which, had it passed, would have granted federal protection to every unborn child and would have nullified Roe v Wade. In addition, Ron Paul is one of the biggest opponents to Bush's push to integrate the United States into a trilateral North American Community. Ron Paul also supports ending the Income Tax and dismantling the Internal Revenue Service. In short, Ron Paul is big-government's worst nightmare.
All of the above became obvious to voters during the six-plus minutes that Ron Paul had the national spotlight. That is why his poll numbers surged following the debate. Imagine what could happen if Paul is given more time to articulate his constitutionalist agenda. He could win more than the debate--he could win the election.