Ron Paul, Rock Lobster

Tonight, Ron Paul debates in Jacksonville. Tomorrow, at 10 a.m., he holds a town hall meeting in Bangor, Maine. At 2 p.m.: A town hall meeting at Colby College, in Maine. At 11 a.m. tomorrow: A town hall at the University of Southern Maine.

What’s he doing? Being strategic. There’s no upside for a candidate at 10 percent to campaign in Florida. The state’s 50 delegates will go to whoever wins the popular vote and (pending some resolution of the penalty for the moved-up primary) whoever wins in each congressional district. Paul has no chance of winning the state, and no great chance of winning any districts. Ah – but in Maine, Republicans are meeting at rolling precinct caucuses, and casting straw poll votes. In 2008, when he was much weaker, Paul got 18 percent of the vote in these caucuses. The actual delegate selection won’t happen until May, as Team Paul knows. But this is the dream scenario:

- Paul places strong second or first in Maine; gets a couple of headlines.

- Paul does as well or better in Nevada caucuses on February 4.

- Paul spends first weeks of February campaigning for the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses, and owns them, complicating the Newt-versus-Mitt storyline in Michigan and Arizona.