Sorry, Jon Stewart, Ron Paul Is Not in the Top Tier

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After days of having his impressive, barely second-place showing in the Ames Straw Poll almost completely ignored, Ron Paul finally got his due yesterday. Not on Fox News or MSNBC or CNN, but on the Daily Show, where Jon Stewart savaged the media for treating Paul like he's the "thirteenth floor in a hotel."

As usual, Stewart makes these talking heads look like fools. There's no excuse for CNN's condescending lack of interest in Ron Paul's speech, or for Bret Baier's similarly condescending smirk. There's definitely no reason for Rick Santorum to be taken more seriously than Ron Paul, as Chris Wallace did in one clip. Paul is an important voice in the GOP primary. He's easily the most libertarian candidate in a party with a growing libertarian wing that deserves recognition. He's the only candidate fully opposing America's global military presence in a party that's becoming increasingly tired of endless war. He's a good, principled man who always shares his honest opinion, which is more than you can say for most politicians in either party.

But as for the "top tier" of candidates, Paul just doesn't belong there. That "top tier" is a political calculation of who has the best shot at winning the GOP nomination. Paul has a very loyal, very passionate fan base, which is why he dominates so many straw polls. But he doesn't have the breadth of support that's needed to capture the nomination, and since many of his views fall outside of the party's mainstream, he never will. His poll numbers don't come close to Romney's and Perry's, and with only a couple of exceptions over the past couple of months, lag behind Bachmann's. Just because Paul performed well in yet another straw poll doesn't mean we have to pretend that he's going to compete in the GOP primaries on the level of those three. He's not, and we all know it.