The Ron Paul phenomenon — in one graph

at 04:36 PM ET, 01/02/2012

Whether or not Texas Rep. Ron Paul win the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday, he is, without question, the candidate that draws the most reaction — both positive and negative.

Paul’s backers would, literally, walk over hot coals for the man. His detractors tend to roll their eyes when talk of Paul as a serious candidate is broached. (The latter sentiment was summed up nicely by Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen who headlined a recent piece: “Seriously, Iowa? Ron Paul?”)

But, love him or hate him, Paul is the most interesting candidate in the field — not a bad distinction for a man who as recently as three years ago was little known outside of his home district in Texas.

Below is a graph of Google searches of the top tier candidates in the Republican presidential field over the past 30 days.

Now, Google searches don’t equal Iowa votes. (If they did, Kim Kardashian would be president and Lady Gaga would be emperor of the universe.) But they are a telling indication of just how much interest Paul has generated — and how far his competitors lag behind.

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