If money is the mother’s milk of politics, so are political polls, which can influence a press narrative, impact the amount of funding received, and bring in volunteers. The developing narrative in the political and polling world over the past few days has been the deflation of new anti-Romney front runner Newt Gingrich: and a new CNN national poll will add to it. His polling lead is now evaporated milk: he in a tie with Romney and Ron Paul continues his ascent, coming in third in the poll:
A CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday indicates that 28% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say the former House speaker is their choice for their party’s nominee, with an equal amount supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In CNN’s previous national poll, conducted last month, Gingrich held a 24%-20% margin over Romney. And Gingrich’s lead over the rest of the field of candidates was even larger in other surveys conducted at the beginning of this month.
This isn’t just a consequence of negative TV ads against Gingrich. It most assuredly is also due to the fact that throughout his political life the more people have really LISTENED to Newt Gingrich, the more he alienates many voters; information about his record and history now being known by more voters; his being blasted about his work as a
lobbyist highly paid historian; and his being denounced by a)people who worked with him b)some top conservative figures and thinkers (not just establishment types).
“Early-December polls from other organizations tended to show Gingrich’s support in the mid-30s with Romney in second place, so the current figures indicate that Romney has recently gained ground at Gingrich’s expense,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
And guess who’s coming up in the political poll?
According to the new CNN survey, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is in third place at 14%. That’s a five point rise for Paul since last month’s poll. The survey indicates Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 8%, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 7%, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 4%, former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 2%, and nine percent undecided
Some now suggest Paul is poised for a win in Iowa. If that happens the operative question is whether the press will begin looking at him as more than a conventional wisdom smirk line — about his mega-loyal followers, and how he can’t really win an election beyond that of holding his own House seat. Writes CNN’s John Avlon:
Right now, Newt Gingrich has been in the lead for a month in Iowa, and his numbers are showing some softening, aided by a barrage of negative ads deployed by the Romney campaign and other rivals, including Paul.
But if Paul can pull off an Iowa upset on January 3, it will shock the political world and push Gingrich off the top-tier media narrative. The campaign then quickly turns to New Hampshire, where Romney — the former governor of neighbor state Massachusetts — has long held a double-digit lead. If Gingrich wins Iowa, he could compete credibly in New Hampshire and then carry his campaign to victories in South Carolina and Florida, where he holds convincing leads in the polls.
If the Paulites shock the world in Iowa, the libertarians in the Live Free or Die State would likely give Paul a boost there as well. The point is not that this could propel Paul to the nomination, but it would solidify his status as a significant player at the Republican Convention and serve as a huge boost to the often-faltering Romney campaign by denying Gingrich an early victory.
So keep your eyes on the Ron Paul scenario in Iowa. It’s admittedly a long shot, but far from unlikely. You don’t have to agree with Paul, but after a career of quixotic stands, he’s earned the right to be taken seriously in his final campaign.
Will Gingrich prove to be a serious anti-Romney? Or is he heading towards Rickperryland and Hermancainland?
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.