Gingrich's Iowa Lead Taking a Dive
On Saturday night, at the ABC News debate in Iowa, Newt Gingrich smiled with the air of a man triumphant, basking in the glow of his 33 percent, front-of-the-pack share of the Iowa primary vote, as described in an ABC News poll.
Via New York magazine'sJonathan Chait, we read that a University of Iowa/Reuters poll placed Gingrich's Iowa lead even higher, with 37.7 percent.
Since then, Gingrich's lead has plummeted, leading the second-place Mitt Romney by only nine points. From the Race 4 2012 Web site (via Chait):
Yesterdaywe posted an Iowa poll from the University of Iowa. It showed Gingrich with a nine and a half point lead (29.8 to 20.3) over Romney, who was in second place. However, there was an aspect of the poll that wasn't reported here: the decline in Gingrich's support that the poll captured.
The poll was conducted over a one week period. According to Reuters, who co-sponsored the poll, during the first half of the survey Gingrich clocked in at a whopping 37.7%; however, during the last three days of polling, he had fallen to 24.4% -- a decline of 13.3% in a matter of days.
As I cautioned in my coverage of Saturday's debate:
Gingrich would be wise not to take his lead for granted, not to chalk it all up to his quick-footed debate performances or the self-proclaimed genius of his own ideas.
Make no mistake: Newt Gingrich is winning in Iowa right now because he is the last non-Mormon left standing whose candidacy the chattering classes have deemed "viable." But Ron Paul is drawing big crowds in the Hawkeye state, and the Iowa caucuses are famous for yielding surprises (Mike Huckabee in 2008; Pat Buchanan's near win in 1996). Yes, Ron Paul could actually win this thing. In Iowa, at least, where two-thirds of Republicans are saying they could still shift their allegiance to another candidate.
Ron Paul was quick to remind the audience that, of all the candidates, he has been the most ideologically consistent.