Rep. Ron Paul has posted solid poll numbers in Iowa while he and his squadrons of volunteers fan out across the state in the run up to next month’s caucus.
But Paul’s success in Iowa might have much to do with a sophisticated system of voter identification that is headquartered in a nondescript office in New York City’s Chinatown.
Paul has visited the Hawkeye State at least once a week since May, racking up at least 47 appearances so far.
The ground game hasn’t gone unnoticed by Iowa’s Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who called Paul’s operation the best of any of the Republican candidates in the state.
And today’s ABC News poll, along with a Des Moines Register poll and an NBC News/Marist poll out over the weekend show Paul polling in the top three in Iowa.
Paul’s Phone from Home Program asks volunteers, no matter where they are in the country, to use their own phone to “survey” or ask potential supporters a series of questions on various topics and then ask who best represents their views.
It’s illustrated in a video clip posted online, where two young women working out of the New York City office are shown appealing for others to join in their crusade to promote the Texas congressman, 76.
Once someone in Iowa is identified as a likely supporter, the name is then passed on to a field office, where another volunteer will again contact the potential supporter.
“It’s an Iowan reaching out to another Iowan,” said a campaign volunteer who asked for anonymity.
According to a recent Bloomberg News poll, more than two-thirds of those contacted by Bloomberg mentioned they had been contacted by a member of the Paul campaign.
“This is what every campaign should be doing,” said Kristen Soltis, a veteran political pollster who has worked on many House races.
The Paul campaign wouldn’t comment on the outreach effort after ABC News visited the New York headquarters; an unrecognizable, disheveled loft space in Chinatown with a DJ booth in the corner and wires hanging from the ceiling.
When asked to comment on what several sources recounted to ABC News, Paul Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton described ABC’s reporting on the effort as “inaccurate,” although he would not say how.
Indeed, the Paul campaign’s outreach efforts have become more sophisticated since placing fifth in the Iowa caucus in 2008.
The campaign changed strategy in the summer, jettisoning large rallies attended by Paul faithful in favor of smaller gatherings that showcase Paul to new voters in more intimate settings, aides say.
The campaign has also been able to mobilize niche voters such as home schoolers and farmers who came out in force in straw polls this summer, and could make a difference in Iowa where relatively small numbers can tip the scales in the caucuses.
The Paul campaign in Iowa has “hard pledges from 20,000 voters,” Time magazine reported Friday.
Paul has also made special appeals to social conservatives, a large segment of the voters in the state. At several campaign stops in the summer, Paul talked extensively about gun rights.
At the Ames Straw poll, Paul recalled some graphic stories from his time as an obstetrics-gynecology resident to explain his opposition to abortion rights.
In addition, ABC News has learned that the campaign is in midst of a $429,000 ad buy in Iowa and New Hampshire.
On Monday the campaign released another in a long line of mostly biographical ads that Paul has been airing in Iowa and New Hampshire since July. Other ads have highlighted his medical background and veteran status.
Paul’s campaign chairman has reportedly said that he plans to continue running ads in the state through Jan. 3.
Paul plans an even more extensive get-out-the-vote effort in coming weeks. The campaign is sending 500 young supporters to Iowa and New Hampshire. The program is called Christmas Vacation with Ron Paul, and through it, youth activists will travel around the key early-voting states to drum up support and get out the vote for Paul.