THE NEWT SURGE CONTINUES – AT 7:49 A.M. ET: He's like the Energizer bunny. Newt Gingrich just continues to move. He has devastated Mitt Romney's lead in national polls, according to Gallup:
PRINCETON, NJ -- Newt Gingrich has all but erased Mitt Romney's 23-percentage-point lead of a week ago among Republican voters nationally, and the two candidates are now essentially tied, at 29% for Romney and 28% for Gingrich. Ron Paul and Rick Santorum have significantly lower levels of support, at 13% and 11%, respectively.
Romney held a 23-point lead over Gingrich as recently as Jan. 11-15. Thus, in a matter of one week, Republicans who are registered to vote have shifted their support substantially -- with Romney dropping 8 points and Gingrich gaining 14 points. The latest Gallup tracking update covers Jan. 18-22, encompassing Gingrich's come-from-behind 12-point victory over Romney in Saturday's South Carolina Republican primary. Gingrich began to gain on Romney well before Saturday's vote, however, most likely reflecting his performance in the two nationally televised debates held in South Carolina last Monday and Thursday.
Gingrich and Romney continue to exchange the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, not unlike the final quarter of a close championship football game. The most obvious implication of this back and forth is Romney's failure to consolidate and sustain his support among Republicans nationally. The virtual evaporation of Romney's 20-plus-point lead over the last week suggests that Republicans most certainly have not settled on the former Massachusetts governor as their final choice for the nominee. The fact that Gingrich has managed to resurrect his standing in the polls once again suggests that Republicans have most certainly not ruled him out.
COMMENT: We are six days away from the Florida primary, although many voters have already voted, given Florida's advance voting system. New polls show Newt leading Romney, although Romney lead substantially only a few weeks ago.
We commented yesterday on the "Republican crisis," and it continues. The party is having trouble deciding between two flawed candidates, and I still maintain that there may well be a movement to bring in someone who is not yet running.
January 25, 2012