Opinion Brief

Is the Gingrich surge over?

After what seemed like a decisive rise to the top of the GOP heap, Newt Gingrich is losing steam. Was he just the latest flavor of the month after all?

"It seems like just yesterday that Newt Gingrich rocketed into the position of 2012 Republican presidential front-runner, a.k.a. the least secure job in the world," says Molly Ball in The Atlantic. But like all the GOP pack-leaders not named Mitt Romney before him, Gingrich's lead seems to be crumbling. Gallup's daily tracking poll still has Gingrich ahead nationally, but what was a 15-point lead over Romney a week ago has dropped to 5 points. And a new Rasmussen poll has Newt losing to Romney in Iowa, 20 percent to 23 percent. Even the political gamblers at InTrade are giving up on him. As Ball asks, is the air "already coming out of the Gingrich balloon"?

Yes, Newtmentum is history: It's pretty clear from the new polls that Gingrich is sinking, and fast, says Allahpundit in Hot Air. And it's pretty clear why: "Voters simply didn't know the bad stuff about Newt yet," and now "they're getting a crash course," thanks to a flurry of attack ads and "withering criticism from prominent conservatives." Worse for Gingrich, he lacks the cash and organizational power to fight back, so "he might not be able to reverse the trend."
"Confirmed: Gingrich's numbers starting to slip"

The news isn't all bad for Newt: It sure looks like "Gingrich's momentum has stopped — and has probably reversed itself," says Nate Silver in The New York Times. But "there are still a few silver linings for his campaign." This could be a temporary dip, like the one then-candidate Barack Obama faced at the same point in 2007 before going on to easily win Iowa. And the numbers for Romney, Gingrich's only real rival, are pretty weak, too. Newt might even benefit from the "diminished expectations" this poll slump brings.
"Gingrich momentum slows, polls suggest"

Gingrich has already proved his point: All of this poll-gazing assumes Gingrich even wants the nomination, says Noam Scheiber in The New Republic. But he's barely campaigning in Iowa, and he "obviously doesn't want to do the things you generally have to do... to become president." I don't think Newt wants the job, or the hard work. My bet is he just wanted to prove to detractors "that he could be president if he really wanted to," and he's campaigning like a man who's "already done what he set out to do."
"Does Newt really want to be president?"

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