As Mitt Romney looks to sew up the Republican presidential nomination, the just-released Reason-Rupe Foundation poll shows that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) could play the spoiler if he mounted an independent campaign by making it virtually impossible for the GOP candidate to beat Barack Obama.
"Ron Paul would probably take about 17 to 18 percent of the national vote," says Reason Polling Director Emily Ekins. While Paul would pull votes from both candidates, he would take more from Romney. The newest version of the quarterly Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey of 1,200 U.S. adults was conducted March 10-20, 2012. Full results and discussion are online here .
The poll shows that Romney has pulled well ahead of GOP rivals Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul among Republican voters. President Obama maintains an edge over Romney in a head-to-head matchup, but both are below 50 percent, says Ekins, with the incumbent beating Romney by 46 percent to 40 percent. And in a three-way race among Obama, Romney, and Paul running as an independent, the totals change to Obama with 41 percent, Romney with 30 percent, and Paul with 17 percent.
In an interview with Reason's Nick Gillespie, Ekins also talked about how Americans are wary of war with Iran (only 37 percent support military intervention if such actions will cause "a war that is similar in length and costs to the war in Iraq") and support for an overhaul of tax policy (45 percent support a shift to a flat tax versus 41 percent opposed).