Paul's strong showing was such a shock to the news media that they actually gave him some decent coverage, including reports on his fundraising accomplishments from ABC News, Reuters, USA Today, CBS News and the generally hostile NY Times.
Does this mean that Paul is suddenly going to come from behind and win the election? It's certainly too early to say. But it does suggest that there's something much more substantial going on with his campaign than just the army of kooks and enthusiasts who have been promoting him on the internet. They may even have a point when they keep saying that the media's polls are underrepresenting Paul's support. Some of those polls are certainly distinguished by some pretty questionable methodology.
I think this makes Paul worth considering as a candidate despite his shortcomings. He still doesn't have Clinton-level money, and he may never have that kind of a massive warchest, but he has enough to stay in the campaign and remain in the public eye. If he somehow managed to beat out the other Republicans and then got access to party money he would have a chance. With Clinton seeming like the inevitable Democrat choice, Paul has a dark horse quality which would work well against her. The contrast would be hard for voters to miss, with Paul's obvious integrity and clear principles set against Clinton's ambition and endless pandering. Paul might be able to beat her when polls are showing other candidates inadequate to the job.
Paul's principle-based politics make Republican insiders nervous, but it ultimately all comes down to beating Clinton. For that Paul may have the right combination of religious values and independent appeal to draw in votes no other Republican candidate can tap effectively, and the major candidates are not polling at all well against Clinton. There are Democrats and independents in large numbers who want to vote for Paul because he's the most prominent candidate with an absolute opposition to the Iraq War, and he will also draw solid votes from the religious right with his stands on abortion and school prayer. It may be signficant that Las Vegas oddsmakers have lowered Paul's odds of winning the nomination to only 6:1, remarkably good considering his 'insurgent' candidacy.