Polls Show Florida Rout. Can Newt Gingrich Survive Till Convention?

Newt Gingrich appears headed toward a big defeat in Tuesday’s GOP primary in Florida. Five polls out Monday show Mitt Romney ahead of him by at least 5 percentage points (Insider Advantage) and as much as 20 points (Suffolk University). In the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, Mr. Romney leads Mr. Gingrich by 12.5 points.

The polls reflect a stunning reversal of fortune for the former House speaker, who trounced Romney in theSouth Carolina primary only nine days ago by nearly 13 points. Gingrich is reacting defiantly, insisting that the Republican nomination race will go on all the way to the party’s convention in August.  

Candidates in trouble always say they’re in it for the long haul.

But in Gingrich’s case, he may mean it. He has long dreamed of becoming president, and at age 68, this is likely his last chance to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. But first, there’s the question of money.

“It is conceivable that Gingrich could stay alive but he has to replenish his campaign coffers first,” says Ford O’Connell, a former aide to the McCain campaign in 2008.


As for his own campaign finances, Gingrich has already shown that he can live off the land. 

Working against Gingrich is the lack of debates for the next three weeks. Debates have been his savior as they have allowed the cash-poor former speaker to shine in the national spotlight – for free.

The February primary and caucus calendar also works against Gingrich.

Between now and Super Tuesday, March 6, all the contests are outside the South, Gingrich’s home base, where he hopes to do well. But even there, Gingrich’s low-budget campaign got caught unqualified for the ballot in Virginia, and so his name will not appear there and write-ins are banned.

His bigger obstacle could be the media narrative. If he loses Florida, as expected, he will have lost momentum – and he will face pressure with every subsequent contest to explain what he’s still doing in the race.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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published this page in In The News 2012-01-30 22:00:00 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy