Propelled by his debate performances and the demise of Herman Cain’s candidacy, former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, sits atop the Republican presidential field in Iowa with a clear lead over his closest competitors, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Gingrich, according to the survey, has advantages that extend well beyond the horse race that put him in an enviable position in the final weeks before the state’s January 3 caucuses, which serve as the formal start of the long nominating season.
On electability, empathy and handling the economy, he does as well as, or better than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has long been described as the nominal front-runner for the nomination, or Rep. Ron Paul (Texas).
Gingrich’s emergence is the latest dramatic shift in the GOP contest that have made front-runners out of a series of contenders only to have them fall quickly back into the pack.
Gingrich’s campaign was considered all but dead only a few months ago. The question now is whether he can capitalise on his current strengths to make himself a lasting contender.
His support in national polls has been steadily increasing, and a victory in Iowa would probably give him a boost in the next two states to hold elections: New Hampshire, where he has been closing in on Romney, and South Carolina. A separate poll of South Carolina voters, by Winthrop University, shows Gingrich ahead of Romney in that bellwether state 38 per cent to 22 per cent.