More signs that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may cause an operative conventional wisdom (that he didn’t have a chance) to be swept under the rug (I myself believed it as well) and could be catching on. With polls such as this how can it be said that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the front runner:
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has carved out a clear lead in what’s become a three-candidate race in Iowa, according to The Des Moines Register’s new Iowa Poll.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul has risen into second place, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has slid to third with just over a month before the Iowa caucuses kick off voting in the presidential nominating process.
Are we moving into an era where it is no longer the “Anti-Romney” but the “Anti-Newt” — and where the strongest Anti-Newt is Ron Paul? MORE:
Gingrich has support from 25 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers, Paul is at 18 percent and Romney at 16 percent.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann ties with retired Georgia business executive Herman Cain at 8 percent.
The poll was conducted before Cain suspended his candidacy on Saturday.
Rounding out the field: Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 6 percent each, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 2 percent.
Selzer & Co. of Des Moines conducted the poll of 401 likely Republican caucusgoers Nov. 27-30. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Gingrich’s support stood at just 7 percent in the most recent Iowa Poll, conducted Oct. 23-26. His rapid rise mirrors Cain’s dramatic fall. Cain led the October Iowa Poll, with 23 percent support.
Despite his swaggering, confident announcement that he is “suspending” his Presidential campaign, it is perhaps polling numbers such as this that helped convince Cain that he’d be better off suspending his campaign (and still collect contributions if they come in) than try and battle this trend as a new scandal was breaking.
This poll is yet another sign of how many GOPers just don’t want Romney. There’s still more than enough time for him to reverse this apparent trend except for this: many Republicans just flat out don’t like him or want him to be their nominee.
UPDATE: Andrew Malcolm thinks there’s a possibility Paul can win in Iowa:
That might seem like a comfortable lead for the former House speaker with only 30 days left. But here’s the special deal about Iowa: It’s not an all-day drop by and vote anytime from 6 a.m. til 8 p.m. thing.
It starts at 7 p.m. and depends on a candidate’s determined supporters being prepared to go out on a cold night and hang in all evening, schmoozing, campaigning, bargaining and voting ballot after ballot after ballot until maybe midnight on a school-work night.
Romney has not been working to win in Iowa, having been spanked into second place there four years ago by Mike Huckabee. Gingrich didn’t open his first Hawkeye state campaign office until this week.
However, Paul’s people are not just supporters; they are disciples, some even willing to doff their clothes for him, as we wrote here. They will also stand (clothed) for windy hours with signs on Interstate overpasses for their guy.
And all fall while other candidates rocketed up and flamed out, the Paul campaign, his third for the presidency (1988 and 2008), has been seeking volunteers from across the country to travel to Iowa for pre-caucus campaigning.
If Paul wins in Iowa, will the general media then toss out the longtime conventional wisdom (which I have embraced as well) that he is a quirky candidate who doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in you-know-where to go beyond maybe one fluke of a win? Remember — always remember — that the conventional wisdom stated with such certainty is discarded as quickly as Romney and Gingrich have discarded past positions. But unlike these two politico’s positions, the old conventional wisdom vanishes and is seldom mentioned again.
Still, it’s hard to see how Paul if he wins in Iowa can take it much beyond there. And, if he did, he’d split the Anti-Romney vote.
But it will be a big story if he wins….in the continuing story of many in the GOP fleeing a Mitt Romney candidacy.
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.