A Rasmussen poll of likely Iowa Republican voters shows that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has roared into the lead, getting 32 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney and Herman Cain trail at 19 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Ron Paul follows with 10 percent and the rest of the field are in single digits.
The surge of Gingrich has constituted one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent political history. His campaign was all but given up for dead last June in the midst of staff departures and a number of missteps. But now, Gingrich is not just the front-runner for the role of conservative alternative to Romney, he is the front runner in fact and against all.
Many Republicans have found favor with Gingrich because of an appealing image of him taking down President Obama in a debate. He has shined consistently in the many Republican candidate forums, including the Lincoln-Douglas style meeting he had with Herman Cain. Republicans want a conservative in the Oval Office. They also want to win. Gingrich seems to fit both criteria, for the moment.
The bad news for Gingrich is that the reason for his sudden surge is that he is just the latest candidate to attract the attention of Republican voters. Bachmann, Perry, and Cain have all risen, only to fall hard once weaknesses have become apparent. It is now Gingrich’s time to be in the sun, and to be a target.
Gingrich brings to his front-runner status decades of political experience and a first-class mind. He also brings a record that is open to attack, the most recent of which is a lucrative consulting contract he enjoyed with Freddie Mac. He also has a temperament that can be prickly at times. He is working on the last, attempting with some success to be a calm, statesmanlike adult.
The question arises: Can Gingrich maintain his position as front-runner through the early primaries and caucuses when some of the also-rans will fall by the wayside? Or will he be knocked from his pedestal as others have before him, to be replaced by someone else?
That remains to be seen as the political season grinds on.