Newt Gingrich Slightly Leading In New Gallup Poll

Are these The Final Two?

Despite all the arguments against him, Newt Gingrich appears to be in the middle of a real bounce in the polls. So far, this has all the classic markings of the pattern we’ve seen in the Republican race where a candidate rises up in the polls to challenge Mitt Romney, stays there for a couple weeks or the better part of a month, and then sinks back down while Romney stays where he has been from the beginning. If the pattern holds here, then it means that we should start seeing Gingrich falling in the polls in mid-December. However, with so little time left before the Iowa Caucuses and, more important the Holiday Season when many voters will tune out of the race for at least week or so, that’s not written in stone. We could be looking at the final Republican pairing for 2012, Newt v. Mitt.

First up, there’s the Gallup poll, which shows Gingrich and Romney in a statistical tie, mostly because of Gingrich has surged while Herman Cain has fallen:

Republicans are most likely to name Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as their first choice for their party’s 2012 presidential nomination, with Herman Cain close behind. Among all Republicans nationwide, Romney is the choice of 20% and Gingrich 19%. Among Republican registered voters, Gingrich is at 22% and Romney at 21%.

hese results are based on a USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,062 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents conducted Nov. 13-17. Compared with the prior poll, conducted Nov. 3-6, Gingrich’s support has increased from 12% to 19% among all Republicans. His support has gone up in each of the last three polls after bottoming out at 4% in August, and is now at his highest for the campaign to date.

Meanwhile, Cain, who has been dogged by allegations of sexual harassment, has seen his support dip slightly, from 21% to 16%. However, it remains well above the levels from earlier this year, which were generally in the single digits.

Rick Perry’s support also slipped, to 8% in the latest poll, conducted after the two most recent candidate debates, including the Nov. 9 debate in which Perry failed to remember the names of all three cabinet departments he vowed to shut down if elected. Perry’s support has declined in each of the last three updates after peaking at 29% in mid-August, shortly after he entered the race.

Romney, meanwhile, has been the leader or tied for the lead in nearly every poll conducted since May, when the Republican field largely came into shape.

The trend over the past several months is pretty clear. Romney has a traveled on a relatively straight line, while everyone else has been all over the place:

More importantly, perhaps is the fact that Romney is the only candidate who appeals relatively equally to conservative Republicans and Republicans or independents who lean Republican but describe themselves as “moderate/liberal”:

These last numbers are important if only because of the fact that there are many open primaries on the GOP calendar this year, meaning that independents are able to vote if they want to. This is one of the reasons why Romney is doing so strongly in states like New Hampshire. Nonetheless, it’s hard to deny that Gingrich has surged despite the fact that he doesn’t have that much of a campaign organization in the early primary states and, apparently, not all that much money, he is a force to be recokned with. Moreover, as I noted above, the calendar may well be on Gingrich’s side here. Absent some serious gaffe on the campaign trial, and Gingrich seems to have that under control these days, I’m not sure what would knock him down from this perch, and who would replace him. Herman Cain has had two bites at the apple now and, between his ignorance and the sexual harassment charges, appears to be done. Ron Paul is too eclectic to appeal to the GOP base as a whole. Michele Bachmann had her chance and pretty much ruined any shot at a comeback during the September debates. Rick Perry just doesn’t seem to be able to get beyond the flubs and gaffes that led to his downfall. That leaves Rick Santorum and Jon Hunstman and, while I’d like to see Huntsman for one get his chance in the spotlight, I don’t think there’s enough time for anyone who is that far back in the national polls to come out of nowhere.

Jennifer Rubin, who is of course a huge Romney supporter, doesn’t think that the Gingirch bounce is sustainable, though:

We know the pattern all too well. A potential unifying conservative enters the race. His shortcomings aren’t well-known. Then they become well-known. His poll numbers crash. The cycle repeats itself with another rival to Romney.

So, really, the question of the moment remains: How far and fast will Gingrich fall as voters learn more about him? It’ probably not a good sign for him that he starts at a comparatively lower altitude than those who tumbled previously.

This is the way I’ve been approaching the Gingrich rise myself, that eventually Gingrich’s character flaws, and his record of backing causes that are anathema to most conservatives would be his eventual undoing. Perhaps that Rubin and I will end up being right about that, but it’s also possible that voters already know this stuff about Gingrich and they’ve already discounted it to some degree. The real question, I think, is how Gingrich responds to the inevitable attacks that will come his way. As I’ve noted before, one of the biggest problems Gingrich has had throughout his public career is the fact that he can tend to come across as something of a smug jerk when he gets into a political argument. It was in part his personality, I would argue, that ended up being the reason that Bill Clinton was so easily able to beat him during the 1995/96 government shutdown showdown. If that Newt Gingrich returns to the surface, then he could find his rise to the top ending very quickly.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ben Wolf says:

    It was pretty obvious that Gingrich jumped into the race for media exposure. Do we know that he even wants to be president? Could he be as surprised by his sudden popularity as we are?

  2. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t think conservatives can afford to compromise. I think they should stand firm in their principles and refuse to be forced into voting for a RINO like Romney.

    The only honorable way out now is an independent candidacy. I think they should decide on a Gingrich-Cain ticket, or maybe a Gingrich-Perry ticket, and go for it.

    This is my honest feeling not in any way influenced by my being a Democrat.

  3. Fiona says:

    If that Newt Gingrich returns to the surface, then he could find his rise to the top ending very quickly.

    Is there any other Gingrich? He’s the very essence of a condescending asshole. It’s the core of his being and he can’t hide it forever.

    That said, I do think it comes down to him and Romney.

  4. Janis Gore says:

    Fiona, are you old enough to agree that Gingrich looks like a grown-up Campbell’s kid?

  5. Janis Gore says:
  6. MBunge says:


    Gingrich as the GOP nominee is the best thing that could happen for the country. Seriously. The last thing we need is a repeat of the 2000 campaign where our political elites can shrug their shoulders about the choice for President and fool themselves that by letting the Republicans have their way, they’ll stop being pissed off and we’ll go back to business as usual. Let’s have a clear and unmistakable choice, so even the Thomas Friedmans of our country have to actually get off their high horses and pick a side.


  7. Gustopher says:

    Gingrich might be surging too early, given how quickly Not Romneys burn out. Does Santorum have time to be the next Not Romney before the primaries start?

    I think it’s Ron Paul’s year… he’s been Not Romney since before Romney was around. He has fake eyebrows instead of fake convictions.

  8. ponce says:

    Gingrich might be surging too early, given how quickly Not Romneys burn out.

    Romney will be the final Not Romney.

  9. Janis Gore says:

    @ponce: That’s funny.

  10. says:

    Mr. Gingrich does not want to be President. In the last few days he has come out against Child Labor Laws and stated he wants to privatize Social Security. Those two statements are likely a calculated attempt to knock himself back down 10 points while keeping enough relevance to still sell books and/or lobbyist services.

  11. Ron Beasley says: You may be right. I never thought he was in it to actually win just to sell books and increase his speaking fees.

  12. EddieInCA says:

    How does Romney win when the “Not Romney” coalesce around one “Not Romney”. Right now, they’re all still fractured.

    Does anyone think that a majority of Santorum supporters will vote for Romney?
    Does anyone think that a majority of Bachmann supporters will vote for Romney?
    Does anyone think that a majority of Paul supporters will vote for Romney?
    Does anyone think that a majority of Cain supporters will vote for Romney?
    Does anyone think that a majority of Perry supporters will vote for Romney?
    Does anyone think that Huntsman’s six supporters will vote for Romney?

    Me, neither.

  13. Rick Almeida says:


    Does anyone think that a majority of … supporters will vote for Romney?

    I do. Partisans fall into line,and rational voters choose the lesser of two evils.

  14. john personna says:

    Canada’s National Post has a really awesome “pig in a snake” graph of the non-Romneys:

    Anyone but Romney

  15. Liberty60 says:

    When it comes down to that Tuesday in November, and John Q Teatard stands in the booth looking at Barack Hussein Obama versus Mitt Romney, does anyone even think for a moment which card he will punch?

    The only question is whether he will go out to vote or stay home and clean his gun mumbling about black helicopters.

  16. A voice from another precinct says:

    @EddieInCA: Well, the Huntsman daughters would probably vote for Romney rather than stay home or vote for Obama. On the other hand, they could write in their father’s name instead.

  17. A voice from another precinct says:

    @Liberty60: Personally, I’ll go with option B.

  18. Herb says:

    Hate to say it….but this GOP nomination battle brings to mind one question and one question only:

    What’s Obama going to do in his second term?

  19. Janis Gore says:

    @Herb: What sane person would want the job?

    I stand with the Onion headline of 2008: “Black man, 47, gets worst job in US.”

    Or something like that.

  20. de stijl says:

    Newt always reminds me of an animated version of Bob’s Big Boy who has aged out of his sweet, sweet hamburger shilling gig.

    Plus with his first name, I always start running Aliens lines in my head.

    We’d better get back, ’cause it’ll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night… mostly.

  21. de stijl says:

    My mommy always said there were no monsters – no real ones – but there are.

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @de stijl:

    My mommy always said there were no monsters – no real ones – but there are.


  23. anjin-san says:

    Yet another GOP Freak of the Week.