With Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex) finishing as low as two percent or less in presidential polls, sources close to the Ron Paul campaign say that as soon as the numbers tick above two or three percent, the "Ron Paul effect" can be said to be engaged.
This is because the differential between Paul's Internet presence and national polls is significant and because, even locally, the established GOP is not apt to encourage or endorse Ron Paul's classical liberal views. Thus, without the larger coalition that Ron Paul has put together of those who do not share hard core "conservative Republican values," Ron Paul will not do especially well in Iowa.
However, if the coalition he has built, and which is evident and effective on the Internet manages to make itself heard in Iowa, Ron Paul's numbers could rise modestly, or even strongly. Sources say that the Iowa GOP is on its guard against this phenomenon and has taken to warning that all voters' ID will be checked carefully to ensure that voters are indeed from Iowa. Nonetheless, Ron Paul campaign staffers are hoping that Ron Paul's crossover candidacy pulls enough libertarian republican voters, democrats, independents and even greens so that a significant result can be achieved in the Iowa polls.
Says one source, "Staffers working for Ron Paul understand that this is the time to turn Internet support into real votes. They are emphasizing that it is not enough to register support on the Internet. Real life action is needed."
Wired Magazine recently put it this way:
"The question this weekend is whether the decentralized passion and organizational ability that his supporters have demonstrated online will translate into political action that will build the candidate's political capital in the offline world. The crucial event for some Republicans this Saturday is the straw poll in Ames, Iowa, where up to 40,000 people are expected to show up. State Republican Party officials hold the all-day, county fair-like event in years when there's no incumbent Republican president, and it's widely viewed as a political thresher that culls weaker candidates from the presidential race."