The Gingrich Surge!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 29 2011 2:09 PM

The Gingrich Surge!

121027632
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

What's the best part of this Paul Bedard item? Is it the title, "Newt Gingrich Could Be the New 'Comeback Kid'?'" The conditional tense is a magical thing -- I could write a headline like "Worldwide Pandemic Could Make Buddy Roemer the GOP Nominee, If He Happens to Be the Only Candidate With An Immunity," and it would be exactly as accurate as Bedard's hed. Is it the fact that the evidence for the Gingrich surge is a quote from a "GOP analyst"? What does that even mean? Does this source write psychological profiles of Republicans? I checked with a random GOP source of my own, just to see if I could get an anonymous quote about this article.

It's far fetched bordering on comical. Operationally, how does the guy raise the money to run a campaign?
Advertisement

Perhaps the best part is Gingrich's spin for how he's going to "come back" -- keeping in mind he has never been the frontrunner.

The Gingrich surge is seen in some polls. In Missouri and Louisiana, for example, he is fourth behind Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rep. Michele Bachmann.

"The general response to the campaign has gone up significantly since [the Iowa debate]," says Gingrich. "There's been somewhat of an uptick in polling numbers, not gigantic yet, but starting us back on the road to building a unique case.

Gingrich doesn't cite which polls give him a statistically significant uptick (hint: none), but Bedard says he's in fourth place in Missouri and Louisiana. The polls that indicate that are WPA Research surveys from earlier in August. In Missouri, Romney leads with 25 percent, Perry is next with 22 percent, and Bachmann comes third at 13 percent. Gingrich has 7 percent. In Louisiana, it's Perry at 30 percent, Bachmann at 16 percent, Romney at 15 percent, and Gingrich at 9 percent.

So: Has he surged? No. These are the first WPA polls we've seen, and not many organizations are polling states that play less of a role in the nomination process. But in May, a Public Policy Polling survey had Gingrich at 10 percent in Missouri, down from 19 percent. He surged from 10 percent to 7 percent! My conclusion: Buy Newt on InTrade. But only do so if you convince yourself that when a man known to almost all GOP primary voters is polling in single digits, it's because he's about to stage a surge.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.