That's what the poll aggregator at Real Clear Politics has shown.
Ron Paul has begun to make the top 5 into a top 6 in the GOP presidential primary race. He is currently pulling in an average of about 4 percent in recent polls. Paul has even scored as high as 6 percent in the most recent Rasmussen Reports polls.
What does it all mean and who is affected by it.
Of course, it's a big show of growing support for Ron Paul and libertarian idealism all-around. The idea of a laissez-faire, "consitutional origins" approach to both fiscal and social issues appeals to many people as a different approach to government. Paul's stance on cracking down on illegal immigration also attracts the interest of voters who support the revamping of immigration laws and stronger border security.
Other Republican top-tier candidates are affected in various ways, and I'll break it down for you...
Rudy Guiliani - Guiliani's campaign actually receives a positive boost from this. Guiliani, while considered a moderate, also has an image of "not George W. Bush" to a lot of GOP voters, which seems to be some of the driving motivation of a good portion of the Republican base. He's had a good record on crime and has good opinions on immigration and border security, and is considered by many to be pretty conservative fiscally. Those who support Paul's approach to social issues also like Guiliani because he's not a social conservative. Basically, Guiliani is a mainstream candidate for those not aligned with the Moral Majority/Christian Coalition bloc...despite his ringing endorsement from Pat Robertson, who founded the Christian Coalition. Guiliani should actually be positively affected by the rise of support by Ron Paul.
Fred Thompson - Fred, despite a record of fiscal conservatism, corruption-cleaning, and strong defense positions...he doesn't bode well by Ron Paul's increase in voter interest. Paul actually takes away from a good amount of Thompson's base, because Paul incorporates a mostly-libertarian ideology...which parallels a lot of federalist ideology, and that is Thompson's way of thinking. Also, it seems that the pro-gun community is split between Thompson and Paul as frontrunners. If you don't believe me, check out the AR-15 forums and you'll see what I mean, the"November Primary" there currently shows 203 total votes cast...and 187 of those votes went to either Thompson or Paul. Thompson receives a negative effect from Paul's increase in support.
Mitt Romney - Mitt's in a dogfight for that second-place spot with Thompson and John McCain. However, Romney's supporters are not anything like Ron Paul's supporters. They're looking for a more activist federal government than most other candidates and lean closer to Guiliani than most other candidates. Given that Paul erodes the conservative bloc, and not the moderate bloc of the Republican Party...Romney may nudge into that "runner-up" position over Thompson and McCain, so he receives a positive effect from this.
John McCain - McCain is on the "comeback trail" after the combination of his support for the Shamnesty Bill and the introduction of Fred Thompson into the race had everyone leaving McCain's campaign for dead. However, McCain has regained traction as the horrid Immigration Bill he co-sponsored has become part of the past for many voters. His re-emergence has made the 2nd place spot in the race even more unclear and has been part of the reason why Guiliani has established a larger lead in the polls than he had a few months ago. McCain, however, is drawing some of his votes from a base similar to Thompson and other conservatives, despite his "maverick" status. However, McCain has his own base of supporters that don't conform to any of the other candidates, which should offset any losses incurred by increased support for Ron Paul. In the end, McCain will suffer no real effect.
Mike Huckabee - Huckabee had been making waves recently, and started nipping at the heels of the top-tier candidates after strong showings in the Iowa straw poll and a string of impressive debate appearances. This has also led to an increase in fundraising numbers. Huckabee straddles a fence between Guiliani/Romney voters and Thompson/McCain voters...and therefore has snatched up support from all of the candidates in the top tier with the exception of Guiliani. However, much of Huckabee's support has also come from supporters of second-tier candidates who were looking for someone outside of the "status quo". With Ron Paul now rallying support, some of the more fiscally conservative voters who supported Huckabee may defect to Paul. Huckabee will still be "in it", but will suffer negative effect from a Ron Paul surge, especially in pure momentum.
First Huckabee, now Ron Paul, is there anyone else that is looking to surge from the second tier?