Pols just posted the results of the new CNN/Time/ORC poll that shows Newt Gingrich well ahead of Mitt Romney in Florida, South Carolina and Iowa. Even his numbers in New Hampshire aren’t too shabby, considering Romney was a given to win the state from the very beginning of the race.
What is truly interesting is that the poll’s methodology lends insight into who Herman Cain’s supporters are leaning to in the wake of his withdrawal from the race. The poll, conducted from Nov. 29 – Dec. 6, only included Cain as an option until Dec. 3. The second choice of respondents who picked Cain have been counted as their first choice.
You can’t help but admit, the size of Gingrich’s gains are just about the amount of support Cain was carrying when he was riding high. The vacuum created by Cain’s absence is showing on the Republican primary field. Even if Romney manages to claim the nomination, his hopes of avoiding a long, vicious, expensive primary are vanishing quickly.
Newt’s lead in Iowa, regardless of how large it is, has been repeated in several polls, including the Des Moines Register. That coupled with the endorsement of the Union Leader (not a person) in New Hampshire have served to weaken Romney’s front in the early states.
This poll is the second to find Gingrich garnering almost 50% of the vote in Florida. His 25 point lead in South Carolina just reinforces that Romney is losing a part of the electorate to Cain. It would be hard to argue that one of the struggling candidates can really make a run for winning these states, especially when they are continuing to show sluggish numbers after their boom-and-bust cycles in the media.
That said, the respondents of this poll were very “on the fence”; over 50% of them in every state said that they “might change their mind”. Gingrich obviously won the Second Choice award from those polled, but it is hard to say if it will stick through the primary season. If he can piece things together state by state, he might be able to give Mitt a run for his money.
This is rough for Gingrich because Romney is poised to dump some of his $32 million on to TV in what are sure to be some pretty nasty attack ads. It’s a month out, and his organization is much larger and better equipped than his opponent. Gringrich’s campaign has raised just $2.9 million and has $1 million in debt. The increased intensity in the race will force him to compete.
By anyone’s account, this is great news for President Obama and the Democrats. Romney is left with no other choice but to spend a lot of money and attack Gingrich, plunging the party into a mud-slinging, good ‘ol fashion primary. If Gingrich somehow succeeds in clinching the nomination, he has a colorful personal life, will carry a mountain of debt and is about 10 points down in a head-to-head with Obama. Either way, he can only serve to weaken Romney if he loses. The President’s campaign will continue to chug along, raising cash and honing their ground game.
A month out from the start of primary season, and Newt Gingrich is poised to be the Republican nominee. Crazy world we live in, isn’t it?