Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gingrich Takes Commanding Leads in Iowa & South Carolina


Newt Gingrich has solidified his lead in Iowa and widened his lead in South Carolina, according to a recent batch of polls released this morning. Gingrich lead is tenuous, however, and his opponents have started linking him with the second place candidate, Mitt Romney, in an effort to bring both of their numbers down in a race in which over half of the voters surveyed still are undecided.

In Iowa, Gingrich leads a new Washington Post/ABC News poll with 33 percent. Ron Paul is tied with Mitt Romney at 18 percent. Rick Perry is at 11 percent. Michele Bachmann is at 8 percent and Rick Santorum is at 7 percent.

In a Public Policy Polling poll, Gingrich leads with 26 percent. Paul is in second with 18 percent. Romney is third with 16 percent.

In South Carolina, a Winthrop University poll has Gingrich with another commanding lead at 38 percent. He is followed by Romney at 21.5 percent and Texas governor Rick Perry is at 9 percent. Historically, South Carolina’s numbers have largely been influenced by events in Iowa and New Hampshire, and that is unlikely to change this cycle as those two states winnow the field of presidential contenders for South Carolina to render what has, since 1980, been a final verdict on who the GOP nominee will be.

In these polls, more than half of those surveyed are willing to change their minds.

The attacks, however, have begun in earnest.

Michele Bachmann, in an appearance on “Morning Joe,” called Romney and Gingrich “frugal socialists.”

In an e-mail to supporters last night, Ron Paul said Gingrich and Romney were “two peas in a pod” and said while “Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping on key issues is no secret,” Newt Gingrich “has spent years, if not decades, doing the exact same thing.”

“Like Governor Romney, Newt Gingrich supported an individual mandate for health care, which is central to both ‘RomneyCare’ and ‘ObamaCare,’” Paul wrote.

Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, a limited government champion and the type of candidate conservatives want this cycle but cannot find, assessed Gingrich’s and Romney’s candidacies and his reservations show why so many voters are by no means firmly committed to their candidates at this time.

After being a panelist in Mike Huckabee’s presidential forum, Cuccinelli said that he wanted to be comfortable that these candidates would be limited government conservatives but did not get that sense from Gingrich and feared he could be another “compassionate conservative.”

Later, Cuccinelli said Gingrich could reassure people like him who had doubts by floating the names of limited government conservatives for potential cabinet and key advisory posts.

In the same interview, Cuccinelli equated RomneyCare to “ObamaCare-lite” and said there were aspects of Gingrich’s congressional record that were “anything but conservative.”

Gingrich, though, speaks the language of this election cycle, and that is why he may be more immune to such attacks in addition to the fact that many voters have already considered his personal and political baggage in coming to their assessments about Gingrich during this cycle.

The criticisms of Romney, though, reinforce the image of him as a robotic politician who has learned how to speak the language of conservatism from Rosetta Stone, unlike Gingrich who is fluent in it.

This is why, should Gingrich stay on message and not flame out with undisciplined pronouncements and ill-advised audibles, Gingrich, who is as optimistic about America as he is pessimistic about Obama, has a much better chance of remaining permanently in front than the other candidates who have taken turns filling in the vacuum for a candidate who is not Romney and passes the “anti-Obama” smell test.

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