Newt Gingrich: Does he have a path to the GOP nomination?
Newt Gingrich is nosing ahead of Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination, according to polls. But it could be hard for him to translate that support into primary victories.
Underlying the frenzied coverage of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s ascendance to front-runner status is a practical question: Is there a path for him to win the Republican presidential nomination?Skip to next paragraph
Yes, but it would be challenging, and experts call it unlikely. Here’s why.
Until now, many campaign watchers viewed his bid as a vanity effort designed to help sell his books and a new documentary made with wife, Callista. The campaign would also keep him relevant as an elder statesman of national politics, influential in Washington circles, and available for top Cabinet posts should a Republican win the White House.
What his campaign had not done, however, is raise the money or create the extensive infrastructure required in key early states to advertise and ultimately get residents to caucus sites or polls. Meanwhile, the front-loaded GOP primary calendar makes it difficult for anyone who fails to finish first or second in Iowa or New Hampshire to regain momentum.
“Iowa is absolutely critical to Gingrich,” says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “He simply has to win or come in achingly close to first. Why? He needs a bounce from Iowa to have any real chance of dethroning Romney in New Hampshire. South Carolina is a toss-up.”
Mr. Sabato says all news out of Iowa indicates that Mr. Gingrich’s newfound strength might be coming too late for that state’s Jan. 3 selection process. A Quinnipiac University national poll released Tuesday shows him leading Mitt Romney, 26 percent to 22 percent. Buzz would have to help him carry the day, and that’s a tall order, Sabato says.
“Caucuses are all about organization, and Newt only has a month to make up a lot of ground,” Sabato says. “Did you notice he didn't even qualify for the Missouri primary? And it was easy to do. If that isn't an indication of poor organization, I don't know what is.”
Still, Gingrich is a social conservative, and Iowa Republicans tend to herald candidates with solid credentials on matters of faith and family. In a stunner, Mike Huckabee toppled Mr. Romney there in 2008. Meanwhile, one influential Iowa group – The Family Leader – announced yesterday that Romney would not be its endorsement pick. Board members are instead weighing Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.