Watching the race for the Republican presidential nomination reminds me of a yo-yo.
First one candidate zooms up the popularity charts, then he slips back down. Then another pops up, then slides back down.
That's pretty much been the pattern throughout the long, drawn-out process. Doubt it? Think Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman, Newt Gingrich.
Mitt Romney is the closest thing there has been to a consistent front-runner, but now Rick Santorum is in his rear-view mirror and by some polls may even be ahead. Gingrich and Ron Paul are still hanging in there but trail the big two.
This is all by way of background to answer the question a caller asked me this week: Where is all the coverage on Paul and his presidential campaign?
The very pleasant woman on the other end of the line wondered why there was little to no media coverage of a veteran's march in Washington, D.C., that supported Paul.
She was as much concerned with the lack of coverage by national media outlets, such as network television news, and understood my explanation that we, as a local paper, depend on the wire services to provide national news.
In truth, I think the lack of widespread coverage of Paul reflects the up-and-down nature of this campaign season on the Republican side of the presidential contest.
And the truth of the matter is, Paul's campaign does get coverage, even if this particular event didn't, and so does Gingrich, but the majority is focused on Santorum and Romney.
That brings up the question whether, on the political circuit, success follows publicity or publicity follows success.
My answer: Sure it does.
That's a simple way to say that's not a simple question.
There's no doubt that coverage of a candidate, whether in mainstream legacy media such as network TV and newspapers or through the Internet, individual blogs, YouTube and so on, can make people aware of a candidate's views on the issues and perhaps attract support that wasn't there before.
But I also think there's a certain critical mass, or level of support, that a candidate achieves that draws the attention of the media. On the presidential level, that's demonstrated by success in state caucuses and conventions.
Even the national media have a limit on their resources. If they have to choose who among multiple candidates to cover, my view is they're going with the front-runners if only because the front-runners have proven their appeal and popularity to the public.
You can argue that's not fair to the gem of a candidate toiling away in relative obscurity and maybe it's not.
But in this day and age, mainstream media are hardly the only channels for candidates to get their message across.
The Associated Press released a poll this week that showed nationally, among Republicans, Romney and Santorum are neck and neck -- 33 percent favored Santorum for the nomination and 32 percent wanted Romney, while Gingrich and Paul each polled 15 percent.
There are myriad factors that go into any news organization's decisions on what to cover and what to skip -- the timing, the profile of the event and who's involved, to name just a few.
Would a veterans' march supporting Romney or Santorum have drawn the coverage that Paul's lacked?
I can't say for sure, but I do think it would have at least changed one factor -- who's involved -- that may have tipped the coverage decision the other way.
Dave Greiling is managing editor of the Standard-Examiner. He may be reached at 801-625-4224 or via email at email@example.com