Ron Paul money bomb pulls in more than $1m

Contributions have been pouring into the Texas congressman's campaign since Valentine's Day.

Ron Paul is defying the notion that winning early GOP primaries is essential to continued fundraising success. The fiery Texas congressman who wants to abolish the US Federal Reserve and re-peg the dollar to the gold standard has yet to win a GOP primary or caucus - although votes are still outstanding in Maine - yet he continues to raise large amounts of cash and draw throngs of enthusiastic supporters.

Just how much dough is the Paul campaign pulling in?

Paul launched a money bomb - that term was popularized during Paul's last presidential run - on Valentine's Day, and has raised more than $1.2m since, according to the running count on his campaign site.

The Texas congressman is hoping for strong showings in Washington, where he has several stops planned, and the slew of states that vote on Super Tuesday. He also hopes for a turnaround in Maine. The Paul camp believes Romney's 194-vote edge in that state could vanish as caucus results are re-examined and outstanding communities vote this coming weekend.

Momentum in primaries is a funny animal, and with only three contests between now and the March 6 Super Tuesday contests, the game will largely be one of fundraising. Despite being a distant fourth in the delegate count, Paul's uncanny ability to raise money makes his campaign more viable than those of most other fourth-place candidates at this juncture would be.

And it makes the race to determine Obama's opponent all the more curious.

Although Paul's gold standard when it comes to fundraising - of late, anyways - has some befuddled as to how to characterize his standing, the waters could be more muddy. "As Maine goes, so goes the nation" does not appear to be witnessing a comeback in 2012.

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What does François Bayrou's endorsement of Emmanuel Macron mean for the French presidential race?

The support of the perennial candidate for President will boost Macron's morale but won't transform his electoral standing. 

François Bayrou, the leader of the centrist Democratic Movement and a candidate for the French presidency in 2007 and 2012, has endorsed Emmanuel Macron’s bid for the presidency.

What does it mean for the presidential race?  Under the rules of the French electoral system, if no candidate secures more than half the vote in the first round, the top two go through to a run-off.

Since 2013, Marine Le Pen has consistently led in the first round before going down to defeat in the second, regardless of the identity of her opponents, according to the polls.

However, national crises – such as terror attacks or the recent riots following the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man, who was sodomised with a police baton – do result in a boost for Le Pen’s standing, as does the ongoing “Penelopegate” scandal about the finances of the centre-right candidate, François Fillon.

Macron performs the most strongly of any candidate in the second round but struggles to make it into the top two in the first. Having eked out a clear lead in second place ahead of Fillon in the wake of Penelopegate, Macron’s lead has fallen back in recent polls after he said that France’s rule in Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

Although polls show that the lion’s share of Bayrou’s supporters flow to Macron without his presence in the race, with the rest going to Fillon and Le Pen, Macron’s standing has remained unchanged regardless of whether or not Bayrou is in the race or not. So as far as the electoral battlefield is concerned, Bayrou’s decision is not a gamechanger.

But the institutional support of the Democratic Movement will add to the ability of Macron’s new party, En Marche, to get its voters to the polls on election day, though the Democratic Movement has never won a vast number of deputies or regional elections. It will further add to the good news for Macron following a successful visit to London this week, and, his supporters will hope, will transform the mood music around his campaign.

But hopes that a similar pact between Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party candidate, and Jean-Luc Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front’s candidate, look increasingly slim, after Mélenchon said that joining up with the Socialists would be like “hanging himself to a hearse”. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.