Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential campaign got off to a rocky start yesterday, with the candidate getting mighty snippy with two different interviewers (I’m rethinking my speculation as to whether that was deliberate after hearing from a lot of people that the dude just has self-control problems).

But the really good thing that happened to Paul was this assessment of his candidacy:

In most presidential primaries, there is a candidate who cannot win. All the other candidates want him to finish second because they are sure that if they can get him one-on-one in a runoff, they will defeat him. The victim must have enough intense support to be able to do well in crowded fields — well enough to make the second round. But he must have sharp limits to his potential vote that doom him to failure.

In 1976 it was George Wallace. In 1988 it was Jesse Jackson. In 1992 it was Jerry Brown. In 1996 it was Steve Forbes. In 2000 it was John McCain. In 2004 it was Howard Dean. In 2008 it was Mike Huckabee (who, like McCain, may do better in his second incarnation). In 2012 it was Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

In the Republican nominating process of 2016, it is Rand Paul.

The author of this keen analysis? Dick Morris.

If Paul can get Bill Kristol to write him off as definitely as Morris, he’ll become an instant front-runner.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.