Ron Paul came fourth in the South Carolina with 13 percent of the vote and has received some local endorsements. The comparison with 2008 is worth considering: from 3.8 to 13 percent. How much of this is due to the economic misery and political disillusionment with the mainstream? For now, Paul's activities within the GOP have thwarted the groundswell of any potential third party straddling social and economic liberalism.
Paul has already performed far above media and political expectations; on some criteria, he is the second most successful candidate after Romney in the primaries so far. A win for Paul in a state would completely alter perceptions.
Can Paul win? This depends upon two factors: how far the GOP is willing to support Mitt Romney in a flawed quest for electability and, how far, conservatives would swing behind Paul in the event that Gingrich and Santorum fell away?