Despite the good news that Rand Paul has qualified for the next GOP debate main stage, the fact remains that Paul should drop from the presidential race, both by logic and by the needs of the party.
Logically, Paul has no groundswell of support that would give cause to keep running for president. Despite the ebb and flow of the Iowa caucus polls, Paul hasn't cracked 5% since last August, before the Trump-mania set in. His current average is 3.7%, which rates only 7th or 8th depending on the poll. In New Hampshire, Paul is similarly mired at 3.7%, having likewise not cracked 5% since August. Nationally, Paul is tracking at about 2%, which is below the margin of error for most polling, and he is edging downward, not up.
Despite Rand Paul's very enthusiastic supporters, there is no momentum, no grass roots mobilization of conservatives or even libertarians en masse. Sen Paul very cleverly used Twitter to make a counterpoint at the last debate that he didn't qualify for, but this week he would have to swing away and hit nothing but home-runs to get any traction with the GOP base.
At the same time, Sen Paul has a liability no other candidate in the race does; he has another election this year. Sen Rand Paul of Kentucky is up for re-election, in a contest he spent the last several years rigging to make sure he could qualify for, even while running for president. Despite criticism from local Republicans, Paul engineered a legal change in Kentucky from a primary state to caucus state, all so he could appear on the ballot for two positions (US Senate and President) at the same time. But this exercise in ego, which may have seemed well intentioned in 2014, may prove to be an Achilles heel in 2016. If Paul loses the caucus vote he personally engineered, his Democrat foes will have plenty of fodder to attack him with.
The GOP controls the US Senate by only 4 seats. Though the GOP is slightly favored to retain control, Sen Paul faces re-election in what should be a safe seat. It is his to lose, which is why he alone among the current GOP presidential candidates should give up the mirage and get back to the business of keeping his Senate seat. Not only would he help the GOP retain control of the Senate, a worthy goal no matter who wins the White House, but Sen Paul's libertarian voice is not replaceable in the Senate, if not the whole GOP Congress.
There are plenty of candidates left in the GOP field that should be quick to drop out. Bush, Huckabee, Santorum, Kasich, Christie and Carson are all polling on the margin of error. But all of them could hope to parlay a strong 3rd or 4th place showing into a vice presidential slot. Paul has no political math to offer for a VP slot, and would be a detriment to the party as a VP candidate because he would leave Kentucky as an open (and Dem winnable) seat.