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Is Newt Gingrich the GOP candidate Obama prefers to face?

Right now, MItt Romney is the only GOP candidate that beats President Obama in a head-to-head matchup, most polls show. But Newt Gingrich is gaining momentum, to some Democrats' delight. 

By Staff writer / December 5, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich walks into Trump Towers for a meeting with real estate investor Donald Trump on 5th Avenue in New York December 5.

Andrew Burton/Reuters

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Newt Gingrich is rising like a rocket. He’s the new Republican presidential front-runner. He’s en fuego, if you know what we mean.

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The latest evidence of this is a just-out Iowa Poll, which puts Mr. Gingrich in the lead in the Hawkeye State as the choice of 25 percent of likely caucusgoers. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is second, with 18 percent, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is third, at 15 percent.

If anything, Gingrich does even better in national surveys. Right now he’s getting about 27 percent of the GOP vote, according to RealClearPolitics rolling average. Mr. Romney is second, at 20 percent.

And unlike past anti-Romney GOP favorites, the ex-House speaker seems unlikely to fade before real voting starts. In part that’s because voting is almost upon us: The Iowa caucuses are four weeks away. Gingrich now has a 45 to 50 percent chance of winning Iowa, writes New York Times polling analyst Nate Silver on his FiveThirtyEight blog.

OK, we get it, for Newt the numbers look good. But here’s our question: Is Gingrich the GOP candidate that Barack Obama most wants to face?

For the sake of argument we’re assuming that the undercard – Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and so forth – is out of it. So we guess the more precise issue here is whether the Democrats would rather face Gingrich than Romney.

Lots of Democrats publicly say “yes.” They’d love to run against a top-of-the-ticket name with such a lengthy record of controversial statements, and who built a large Washington-based business machine. The ever-quotable soon-to-be-former Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts has said, “I never thought I’d live such a good life that I would see Newt Gingrich as the nominee of the Republican Party.”

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