Is Rand Paul About to ‘Shock the World’ Today in Iowa?

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Should Trump and Ted be worried?

Follow any of Rand Paul’s supporters on Facebook and you’re likely to have heard one thing about today’s Iowa caucuses: Paul is about to shock the world. The Kentucky senator has been polling in the lower half of Hawkeye Cauci participants and the Real Clear Politics average currently has him tied with Jeb Bush in fifth. Thanks to his strong ground game, Paul partisans think their man has a serious chance at placing third.

Can it happen? It’s certainly possible.

First to the bad news. Back in 2012, the polls were highly predictive of Congressman Ron Paul’s placement in the Iowa caucuses. The RCP average at the time had Paul winning 21.5 percent of the vote; he ultimately won 21.4 percent of the vote. If his son is going to place third, he’ll need to buck the numbers in a way his father never did.

Key to this will be the youth vote that’s been so instrumental for both Ron and Rand. In 2012, only 4 percent of eligible 17-to-29-year-old voters in Iowa turned out for the caucuses. However, the young also constituted 15 percent of total caucus-goers, a formidable coalition. Among those youth voters, Paul won an absolutely dominating 48 percent; in second place was Rick Santorum with only 23 percent. A Rand Paul victory will require a surge of college students and young adults that, as with his father, coalesce behind him, and, unlike with his father, dwarf what the polls have long predicted

By no means is this outside the realm of possibility. Remember, none of the polls caught Rick Santorum’s last-minute gallop in Iowa that outpaced both Paul and Mitt Romney , and won him the caucuses. And while the pollsters were generally accurate in predicting the 2012 general election, since then they’ve had a sorry record, missing the 2014 Republican tidal wave, David Cameron’s decisive victory in Great Britain, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to office in Israel.

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