The Washington Post

Poll shows Ron Paul’s strengths and weaknesses in GOP primary

Texas Rep. Ron Paul earns 16 percent support for the Republican nomination in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, statistically unchanged from 15 percent in December and in the same range as Newt Gingrich (17 percent) and Rick Santorum (13 percent). Frontrunner Mitt Romney leads with 35 percent. (See the Post’s graphic showing each candidate over time).

View Photo Gallery: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), who has built a loyal following among libertarians, is running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

What are Paul’s strongest groups? He performs especially well among independents who lean toward the Republican Party (23 percent support him), those with a high school education or less (23 percent), attend church less than weekly (22 percent), moderates and liberals (21 percent), and those under age 50 (20 percent).

Paul’s weakest groups? College grads (6 percent), weekly churchgoers (9 percent), white evangelical Protestants and strong tea party supporters (10 percent each).

General election

Paul trails Obama by eight points in a hypothetical general election match-up, 49 to 41 percent in the new poll. He runs close with Obama among political independents, but wins only seven in 10 of self-identified Republicans. By comparison, Sen. John McCain won nine in 10 Republicans in 2008, according to exit polls.

Persistent challenges

Paul’s opposition to military intervention overseas is seen by 49 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents as a major reason to oppose him; about half as many as see it positively (25 percent). Fully half of Republican leaners think Paul, as president, would pursue policies that are unacceptable to most Americans, while fewer than four in 10 think he would pick policies that are acceptable.

Paul doesn’t lead the GOP field on any of the 12 issues and attributes tested in the poll. He does best on standing up for what he believes (19 percent) and being the most honest and trustworthy (18 percent).


The attacks leveled against Romney for breaking up companies while working at Bain Capital seem to be more tailor made for Paul. He runs closer with Romney (24 vs. 29 percent) among those who say the economic system unfairly favors the wealthy. But Romney holds a more than 20-point edge among those who see over-regulation of the free market as the bigger problem (38 percent Romney, 13 percent Paul).

More from the Post polling team

Sign up for Post polling e-mails

Follow Post polling on Twitter

Like Post Politics on Facebook

Scott Clement is a survey research analyst for The Washington Post. Scott specializes in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Making family dinnertime happen
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
Play Videos
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Learn to make this twice-baked cookie
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
Play Videos
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
The art of tortilla-making
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Circus nuns: These sisters are no act
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
Cool off with sno-balls, a New Orleans treat