Newt Gingrich surges in Iowa. Will it last?
Newt Gingrich leads the Republican pack of presidential hopefuls in the key state of Iowa, according to a new poll out Sunday, and he seems likely to pick up Herman Cain's endorsement.
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That includes some fellow Republicans who served with him in the House. Rep. Peter King (R) of Long Island (who has not endorsed anybody) recently referred to Gingrich as “condescending … undisciplined … pedantic” and with an “incredible sense of exaggeration.”Skip to next paragraph
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But in Iowa for now, the numbers tell a clear story.
Between June and November, Gingrich went from 7 percent to 25 percent. Mitt Romney dropped from 23 percent to 16 percent.
Still, it’s too early to call it a two-man race.
Ron Paul – the libertarian outlier most different among the rest of the Republican candidates – rose from 7 percent in June to 12 percent in October to 18 percent in November. He has an enthusiastic and well-organized base (only Michele Bachmann has shaken more hands in Iowa than Paul), but just 7 percent pick him as their second choice.
“This is where Paul is weak, in that he has little breadth from which to draw new support,” pollster J. Ann Selzer told the Des Moines Register.
For Gingrich, on the other hand, Cain’s withdrawal from the race benefits him more than the others. There’s a good chance that Cain could endorse his friend and fellow Georgian. And when first and second choices are added together, Gingrich wins a very impressive 43 percent among likely Iowa caucus goers.
Romney has his work cut out for him, but he does have several things going for him. Pluralities among likely Republican caucus goers see him as the most electable and most likeable, and Gingrich supporters are more likely to pick Romney as their second choice than any of the other candidates.
Romney also won some very valuable endorsements – including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a very popular figure in GOP circles who many Republicans begged to enter the race. Gov. Christie will be in Iowa this coming week stumping for Romney.
Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann all have surged toward the front of the pack, only to fade when gaffes or unhelpful revelations arose. It could happen again, as Gingrich acknowledged at a town hall meeting in New York over the weekend, and that could work to Romney’s benefit.
“Leading on electability offers perhaps the brightest ray of hope for Romney supporters,” writes Jennifer Jacobs in the Des Moines Register. “Gingrich’s surge might prove another primal but short-lived scream of frustration at the direction the country is headed.”