» What’s going on here? Actually, we’re not sure. Common wisdom says that Cain’s support flocked to Gingrich after the former dropped out of the race (or, sorry, “suspended” his campaign). So how come the same University of Iowa poll—taken in the state over a weeklong period—shows a drastic fall in the former House Speaker’s support after Cain’s exit? Of course, the standard “this is just one poll” disclaimer still applies; this could just be an anomaly. But a 13.3% decline in one week is significant, and outside the poll’s margin of error. Given the boom-bust tendency of the GOP field this year, we can’t help but wonder if this is the beginning of the end for Newt (note: it’s rather unusual for a polling house to make available the intra-week trends of a single poll; much respect to Reuters, who co-sponsored this poll, for doing so).
One of the Republican weaknesses is that we rely too much on consultants and too much on talking points, and we don’t rely enough on actually knowing things.Newt Gingrich • In an interview with David Brody. Not quite sure what the political calculus is here, as admitting publicly that your entire party doesn’t know what it’s talking about is rarely good politics. However, not “actually knowing things” would seem to be a disqualifying factor for someone running for president, so Newt’s obviously exempting himself from this assessment. source (via • follow)
» Sorry guys, but Mitt’s it. It’s clear as ever this isn’t the position the GOP base wants to be in. To be clear, Romney’s polling lead is huge — Herman Cain came in second place with 20%, a full 18 points behind. The enthusiasm problem, however, as displayed by the discrepancy between his general support and those truly committed to him, should be a warning sign for Team Romney. Successful political figures usually need to inspire an extreme degree of loyalty amongst their base to weather the missteps, gaffes or scandals that usually occur over the course of a long campaign process. If it’s true that nearly 3/4ths of Romney’s New Hampshire supporters are still theoretically open to jumping ship? That’s a problem.
» All aboard the Cain Train! Republicans in North Carolina, Nebraska, and West Virginia want Herman Cain as their nominee—he leads all of his opponents in a new PPP poll. A Washington Post/ABC poll released today showed Cain tied with Perry for second nationally, and two polls last week also showed evidence of Cain Fever sweeping the nation. This seems to be at the expense of Rick Perry, who’s collapsing just as fast as Cain is rising (in North Carolina alone, more than half of his supporters have abandoned him, and a Fox News poll last week showed him losing ten points in a month). Romney is still the (perpetually-endangered) frontrunner, but there’s a plausible argument to be made that Cain is now in the top-tier of candidates. Of course, the same thing was once said of both Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann, so take that as you will.
The candidates have taken the stage, and tonight’s Republican debate is about to begin. If you missed the memo, we’ll be co-liveblogging it with our buddies at DC Decoder, so be sure to check them out as well (which you should already be doing anyway, because they’re a fantastic blog). And so, without further ado…