Newt Gingrich: Phoenix Rising or Leader Emeritus? Can Newt be the Next Frontrunner?

  Bookmark and Share  While Mitt Romney maintains a steady 25% in most Republican presidential polls, the polling numbers for other candidates have seen wide fluctuations that provide them with five minutes of fame in frontrunner status. That has been a phenomenon mainly to the desire of the G.O.P. base to find a viable alternative to Romney that they can get excited about. For a while that alternative was Mike Huckabee Mitch Daniels, and Donald Trump.  Then it was  Michele Bachmann, and soon after her it was Rick Perry.  When Perry stepped in and did not meet expectations, the enthusiasm shifted back towards the hope that a new name would jump in to the race.  Paul Ryan again declined and then Chris Christie spent an hour in a press conference convincing people that he was not running.  Soon after that, Herman Cain catapulted to the top.

At the moment, Cain still remains in the lead in several state and national polls, but it is a slim lead that seems to be slowly fading.  Meanwhile Romney stays mired in the mid twenties.

So what’s next?

Will Cain build on his lead?

It is possible but not very likely.

Herman Cain has had a few hiccups such as his contradictory remarks regarding abortion.  These bumps in Cain’s road to the White House have stalled his momentum a bit and it provides a little space for a new name to move up in the polls.  And while Cain can certainly recapture that momentum, he is still quite limited in the sense that he has not been able to coordinate any significant organizational strength on the ground in any of the early states.  Without such organizational strength, high poll numbers are in truth artificially inflated.  Coordination of an operational organization that keeps a close track on voters is the only way to insure that those high poll numbers translate in to actual votes.

But between now and when the first votes in Iowa take place, perception is the name of the game.  Voter perceptions will continue to be the driving force behind the polling numbers and if I am right, I believe that perceptions will soon find Cain being viewed in a much dimmer light and cause Newt Gingrich’s name to the forefront.

As Rick Perry focusses on tearing Romney down instead of building himself up, and as Herman Cain is forced to waste time correcting and explaining himself, candidates like Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul will continue to look for opening that will let them get in to contention.  Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich has recently found his opening.  An average of polls as indicated by Real Clear Politics, shows that Newt Gingrich is practically tied with Ron Paul for third place.  Paul’s numbers are basically as high as they can go in a Republican primary or caucus.  That essentially leaves Newt as the candidate in third place and that ultimately gives Newt Gingrich the best chance to become America’s next new Top Model………….,  I mean candidate.

Up to now, Newt has been running g a low-key campaign.  That is mainly due to the fact that he has had no choice in the matter.  His fundraising has been relatively meager, many conservatives have not wanted to give Newt much of a chance because of his personal marital infidelities, and the establishment has not wanted to give Newt much consideration because of what they see as a general image problem that makes Newt unelectable.

But all that may change and Gingrich is ready to force that change upon voters.

Mitt Romney is eventually going to have to move in one direction or another.  He will have to break out of the mid-twenties and break in to the at least the low  to mid-thirties.  Unfortunately, this is not likely to happen until Romney wins a primary or caucus other than New Hampshire, where he is an obvious favorite.  Until Republicans who are apprehensive or unhappy with Romney have concrete reasons to resign themselves to an inevitability of Romney winning the nomination, they will either remain on the fence or commit themselves to another candidate.  Right now, Rick Perry, the candidate seen as having the most potential to be the alternative candidate,  is not picking up many votes and he is not having an impact on the 25% that Romney steadily maintains.

Perry also has many troubling hurdles.  While his Republican rivals will continue to chip away at his strong suit……..job creation, and hammer away at his unpopular illegal immigration positions, Perry is stuck with other problems.  He is not good on the stump.  Perry does not do well in unscripted environments.  Whenever he is left to his own devices, he fumbles and stumbles and does not portray the type of command of the issues and confidence that is necessary.   While in time, he may improve, right now there is little room for on the job campaign training.

As for the others, Herman Cain faces the same problem and I believe that he and his cornerstone 9-9-9 plan are not going to hold up to the scrutiny that comes with being a frontrunner for very long.  Ron Paul has hit his usual 8 to 14 percent ceiling of support, Bachmann will fight for her life and exhaust her resources in Iowa to compete for a stop spot and in the end, she might pull off a win in Iowa but that is becoming increasingly unlikely and even if she does take the Iowa caucuses, she will have little ability to translate that in to a victory in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada or any other contested races.

In regards to Rick Santorum, while he will campaign well, he has not demonstrated an ability to catch on with voters and without any significant money available to him, it is not possible for him to become a contender for the top spot.

This leaves Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson.

Johnson is just not a factor and will not be.  He is investing all his time and very limited resources in New Hampshire where he is counting on pulling off a miraculous upset victory over Mitt Romney and suddenly become the man to beat.  But that won’t happen.  Huntsman may be able to surprise many with a second place finish in the Granite State but that too is unlikely.  And regardless of how well he does, he will not gain the type of momentum from his New Hampshire finish that can  propel him to a top spot in South Carolina, Nevada, and/or Florida.

This leaves Newt Gingrich with multiple windows of opportunities to become the next best alternative to Mitt Romney and the next flavor of the month, or at least the week and he knows it.  He already believes that he has a chance to do well in New Hampshire, and states that Romney does not have a lock on that state’s primary. And he may be right.  That is why Gingrich is finally building an organization in New Hampshire.  More so than any of the other candidates, Newt has the potential to sneak up on Romney, a state which recent primary history has shown to be the scene of many surprises.  If Newt has the resources, he could take advantage of New Hampshire by pulling off a surprise second place showing.  That would be a great start to the firewall Newt has stated that he will build in South Carolina.  With a good showing in New Hampshire, Gingrich may be able to build what could more accurately be called a large sand dune in South Carolina, but not a firewall. Nonetheless, he can establish himself there and turn what is currently a campaign to talk about in passing, in to a campaign that grabs the headlines——positive headlines.

Leading up to the first nominating contests, in order for any of this to be possible, Newt can and must begin to take control of the agenda through successful strategic messaging.  By turning his numerous ideas in to the topics of discussion, he can quietly rise in the polls, as he has already been doing, but at a significantly faster rate.

If and when that happens it will be quite possible for Newt Gingrich to make his move and turn the nomination contest in to a two or three man race between himself, Mitt Romney and either Herman Cain or Rick Perry.  If that does occur, all bets are off because Newt can not be underestimated.  He is a man of superior intellect and his ideologically passion can be infectious among conservatives.   Add to that the undeniable fact that Newt is a  figure who has helped shape contemporary conservative thinking and what you have  is a candidate who in a mano y mano environment, will allow Newt to score many points and finally begin to tap in to all that is needed to unite critical factions of the electorate into a winning coalition of voters, a coalition that even includes the TEA Party.

While Newt is not considered a darling of the TEA movement he has the ability to tap into them and win them over. In New Hampshire he has already begun to tap in to the TEA Party.  He recently hired Andrew Hemingway, a Tea movement activist and former state chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, as his state campaign director.  In line with his potential TEA movement appeal, while Newt was once part of the establishment, he is far from an establishment thinker or player and that bodes well for him in an anti-establishment electorate.  When it comes to the conservative base of the Party, few true conservatives can turn their back on Newt if he positions himself as “the’ alternative to Romney.  Social conservatives may still put their noses up at Newt, but their vote may be end up being divided between players like Cain, Perry, Bachmann, and even Santorum.

Of course none of this is definite.  Newt has been reluctant to demonstrate a willingness to allow his campaign to operate in carefully structured environment, and while that may be refreshing and have a degree of popular appeal, it prevents Newt from avoiding pitfalls and from organizing the type of ground game that is needed to keep support once you get it.  However, as demonstrated by his new hires in New Hampshire and the opening of 5 offices in  New Hampshire, there are signs that he is resigning himself to the reality of the need to employ some type of  basic and traditional campaign structure.

All of this leads me to suspect that Newt is the next name to become the focus for the Republican presidential nomination.  The question is, will he have the ability and resources to keep his name at the top once he gets his turn, or will he fall back into the ashes like others have done?   The answer  will either start a new chapter for Newt as President or close the book on his political career and forever remain simply, the former Speaker of the House.

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One Response

  1. […] White House 2012 stated Newt would revive his campaign and break through last week […]

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