The only danger about people like me and Ed saying Ron Paul can never win is that it fuels his anti-establishment cred. Paul has two bases of support: a libertarian base that likes Paul for his consistent purism on stripping government of all but extremely limited powers and a really angry base that is more about creating chaos than philosophy. This second group would like nothing more than to send a giant message of anger to the political establishment, and Paul is a good vehicle for that.

But, as I argued yesterday, as primaries unfold, most voters become less and less interested in sending a message and more interested in electing a president. Under that theory, Paul will hit his ceiling pretty fast, as perhaps another protest candidate, Newt Gingrich, already has. I also agree with Ed that Ron Paul’s potential strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire — after all, isn’t the Granite State’s slogan, “Live free or die,” tattooed on his chest? — will benefit Mitt Romney. The specter of a Paul presidency made even slightly manifest will help Romney do what he does: Call his reluctant flock home.