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The Brief: Feb. 6, 2012

A poor showing in Nevada on Saturday has thrown Ron Paul's campaign strategy into doubt.

Ron Paul in Manchester speaking to supporters after the 2012 New Hampshire primary.

The Big Conversation:

A poor showing in Nevada on Saturday has thrown Ron Paul's campaign strategy into doubt.

Though Paul wasn't expected to win the state's caucuses, campaign officials had said they expected a strong second-place finish. Some even predicted last week that Paul could win if turnout was low.

The campaign, after all, had set up a Nevada office more than six months ago, and had spent almost twice as much money in the state on TV ads as front-runner Mitt Romney, who won the state in 2008. (Paul placed a distant second, ahead of John McCain.)

Instead, Paul finished third on Saturday, with 19 percent of the vote, behind Newt Gingrich, who had spent no money on ads in the state but still collected 21 percent of the vote. Romney again claimed first place, with 50 percent of the vote.

As Politico notes, though the disappointing finish isn't likely to hurt Paul's ultimate goal of amassing delegates in smaller caucus states in an attempt to wield influence at the Republican convention, the results have underscored Paul's inability to significantly expand his voter base, even in libertarian-friendly states like Nevada.

Paul said Sunday on ABC's This Week that organizational glitches had caused "chaos" and "confusion" among caucusgoers. (One dispute, according to The New York Times, centered on a special Saturday night caucus designed to accommodate Orthodox Jews who could not vote before sundown.) But he admitted that he had underperformed.

"If you go from second to third, there would be some disappointment," he said. "But on the positive side, we will get a block of votes, we still will get some delegates, and we still will pursue our plan to go into the caucus states."

The campaign will now turn its focus to Minnesota, which holds its caucuses Tuesday — and which some have called a tossup. Paul attended two events in the state on Saturday and returns today. Caucuses also began Saturday and continue this week in Maine, where Paul has campaigned, though results won't be announced until Feb. 11.


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