I have written a number of pieces on Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas) predicting that he will have an influence on this campaign. And he has -- to the tune of hundreds of thousands of supporters and more than $28 million raised to date. His support manifests itself mainly on the Internet.

I decided to visit New Hampshire on primary day to see whether Paul's support was real or a figment of the imagination created by the Internet. It is, in fact, real. But where will his campaign go from here?

For much of the fall, Paul was almost nonexistent in the polls, around 1% in New Hampshire, in other states and across the nation. Things began to change once his supporters raised millions of dollars.

Ron Paul's the Only Real Conservative in the Race

In New Hampshire, I saw Paul supporters swarming, carrying signs, urging supporters to vote and manning polling stations. The campaign has managed to move from the Internet out onto the streets.

Paul received 10% of the vote in the Iowa caucus and was one of three candidates to win a county there. I was interested to see if he would repeat that performance or better in New Hampshire. It didn't happen. I had assumed more independents would vote for him and carry him to third place. But he garnered a mere 8% -- three percentage points behind third-place Mike Huckabee.

Paul's campaign must be buoyed by news that his supporters will hold another large fund-raiser for him. The event , scheduled for Jan. 21, has been dubbed "Free at Last" in honor of Martin Luther King Day.

The campaign has plans ahead of other primaries, as well, including events in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The South Carolina primary for Republicans is Jan. 19, a week ahead of the Democratic primary. Paul has received 5% support in the most recent polls there -- far less than he had in Iowa and New Hampshire. The campaign will have to hustle to make a decent showing in South Carolina.

Don't Rule Out Independent Run

In my interview with Paul in New Hampshire, he seemed realistic about his chances. He understands that his campaign must continue to gather support in the polls, not just on the Internet. I asked him in particular whether he's a real conservative, because the word conservative has been used so liberally by all of the Republican candidates.

Conservative ideology prefers small government to big, free markets to regulation and nonintervention to alliances. Paul finds it hard to believe someone like Rudy Giuliani might be seen as the face of Republican Party.

In New Hampshire, I also interviewed Paul's son, Rand Paul, who said not to rule out his father running as an independent.

Ron Paul has overcome many challenges. He has gone from an obscure candidate with only a message to one with faithful supporters and millions of dollars on hand. But if he doesn't move higher than fourth or fifth place in the very near future, I see his campaign ending after Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.

No matter what happens in the next month, it will have been an impressive run.