Newtonian Optimism

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 30 2012 3:57 PM

Newtonian Optimism

TAMPA, Fla. -- How do you psych up a crowd when you know they're turning on TV and hearing early predictions of your doom?

photo (32)

You look for reeds of hope. In his speech here, Newt Gingrich promised the crowd that there were good omens, reasons to see victory on Tuesday.

"We've just learned of a poll that has us tied, 35-35."

What poll was this? The only recent poll with those numbers was a survey conducted by Dixie Strategies/The News-Press/First Coast News.

Gingrich was favored by 35.46 percent compared to 35.08 percent for Romney — a difference of 0.38 percent — in the...  poll of 2,567 likely voters released Friday. Gingrich’s slender edge was well within the poll’s 1.93-percent margin of error. The survey was conducted between Monday and Wednesday.

Monday through Wednesday, before the final presidential debate that (causation and causality fallacy alert) began Mitt Romney's current rise. Two polls -- Insider Advantage and PPP -- have showed Gingrich narrowing a gap with Romney. But it's been a week since he led. Gingrich supporters I talked to here, like Terry Wickman (a diehard sporting a Newt button from 1998, had absorbed the grimness. "It'll be close, within a couple of points," said Wickman. "It's coming down to women voters, and those Romney ads."

It will come down to some critical mass of voters buying the Gingrich message. He was handed a small piece of art portraying Romney and Obama with the slogan "Romneycare is Obamacare," and he signed it with a plea that the artist didn't schlep it on eBay. "Put this online," he suggested. Give him a win, and "we'll send a signal to George Soros, to Goldman Sachs, to the Washington and Wall Street elites."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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