How does Paul's haul stack up? It's a pittance compared with the $27 million Hillary Clinton brought in and the $20 million or so Barack Obama collected. But it's completely respectable -- no, more than respectable -- judged against the contributions coming in for the rest of the 2008 contenders.
Paul's $5.1 million is in the general neighborhood of Fred Thompson's $8 million, on the same street as John Edwards' $7 million and right next door to Bill Richardson's $5.2 million. Any moment now, John McCain will announce a number that looks a lot like Paul's, and he'll claim that it's a sign that his campaign is finally moving up.
Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney will report larger numbers when they check in, but not Clinton-and-Obama larger. The rest of the candidates -- both Democratic and Republican -- will need to be admitting that they were outraised by a guy the media (including War Room) wrote off even before the race really began. In the same period in which Ron Paul raised $5.1 million, Joe Biden brought in about $2 million, Chris Dodd raised $1.5 million, and Dennis Kucinich collected about $1 million. Republicans Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo and Mike Huckabee are all expected to announce third-quarter numbers lower than Paul's.
Does this mean that Paul is more likely than, say, Huckabee or Brownback to get his party's presidential nomination? Not exactly. While Paul is excelling at fundraising, and especially the online part of it, we're having a hard time seeing the Republicans -- or even the Democrats -- nominate a libertarian who opposed the Iraq war from the start and thinks that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional. In a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Paul has the support of just 2 percent of Republican voters. That's a notch up from single-pointers Brownback, Hunter and Tancredo, but no better than "none" and eight points behind "unsure."