After the press largely wrote him off over the summer, former House speaker Newt Gingrich has quietly risen to third place in several recent GOP presidential polls. And while political strategists couldn't agree on whether Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, or Rick Perry won this week's GOP debate in Las Vegas, all seemed to think that Gingrich's performance bolstered his campaign. Does Gingrich now have a real shot at the nomination?

Gingrich always was a contender: Nobody should have been surprised to see that Gingrich is the "smartest and best debater" in the field, says an anonymous GOP operative, as quoted by Jim Geraghty at National Review. The "pundits who said his campaign was over" didn't know what they were talking about. Romney is so "robotic" and moderate that he "can't really move his numbers" any higher than they are now, so it may eventually come down to Perry and Gingrich.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi on last night's debate and the state of play"

He has a shot at being the anti-Romney: Gingrich himself says this race boils down to Romney vs. Not Romney, says Jamie Dupree at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and even Newt thought Perry was going to be seen as the viable alternative to Mitt. But "the polls show that Perry may not be that person." That opens the door for Gingrich to convince GOP voters to give him a better look and, after the next few debates, his numbers could "bubble up and put him in that top tier along with Herman Cain."
"Gingrich fights on"

Newt will not be the nominee, period: The best Gingrich can hope for is that he'll get a turn as the GOP's flavor of the month, says Andrew Belonsky at Death and Taxes. But like previous "one-hit political wonders" — first Michele Bachmann, then Perry, now Cain — Gingrich just "cannot win the White House, or even the Republican primary." Barring some unforeseen sea change, it looks like "Gingrich, Perry and the race's other brief stars" will just be the "sad sidekicks" of Mr. Inevitable, Mitt Romney.
"The return of Newt Gingrich?"