Four long months have passed since the first obituary of Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) presidential campaign. Molly Ball's June opus on Paul's "struggling presidential campaign" pronounced him "flailing" due to polls that pegged him -- in those misty, forgotten, pre-Donald Trump days -- in fourth place.

Since then, no Republican candidate has been declared dead as often as Paul. A small but growing number of Republicans have asked him to quit his presidential bid and shore up his Senate seat. (Undisclosed polling by a third-party group has found Paul's approval dipping since his campaign launch.) Paul has bristled when asked to explain why he's still running. The Wall Street Journal has even speculated as to whether CNBC's debate guidelines, which require candidates to poll above 3 percent to make the main stage, would remove Paul.

No dice, not yet. In the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, Paul has climbed back up to 3.6 percent, good enough for eighth place -- or, if anyone is feeling generous, a tie for seventh place with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. In a new CNN poll, which will figure heavily into the CNBC average, Paul is at 5 percent.

"It shows we’re heading in the right direction," Paul told The Washington Post. "Ever since the last debate, it shows we've been building up support. I think we’re actually under-represented even in that recent CNN poll, because the youth vote is under-reported. There aren’t as many young people who answer these polling calls, but we have over 3,000 students that have agreed to caucus with us in Iowa."

Paul's campaign allies are trying to spike the football. Vincent Harris, Paul's digital guru, responded to the CNN poll with tweets goading the media into giving the candidates behind Paul some of the same pre-obituary treatment.

And South Carolina state Sen. Tim Davis, a longtime Paul ally who'd recently praised Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), took to Twitter to celebrate the CNN poll.

The poll's margin of error was 3 percentage points, meaning that Paul might actually be tied with Cruz and Fiorina -- or that his numbers had not improved at all. But those campaigns are not constantly trying to block pundits from slamming the coffin on them.