The explosion of Newt Gingrich’s rise in the polls has reached a fever pitch with a new poll out Friday showing him in a statistical dead with Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, of all places. Up to this point, only Ron Paul has even come close to touching Romney’s numbers in the Granite State so this poll could be an outlier or it may be the first to pickup a growing trend.
Report from the New Hampshire Journal:
The latest NH Journal poll of likely Republican primary voters conducted by Magellan Strategies shows Romney and Gingrich in a statistical dead heat for the January 10th primary. If the election were held today, Romney would earn 29% of the vote and Gingrich would earn 27%. Texas Congressman Ron Paul continues to show resolve by earning 16%. Herman Cain gets 10%. No other candidate is in double digits.
This is the first time any of NH Journal’s polls have shown anyone candidate even close to Romney. It also shows tremendous movement for Gingrich since NH Journal’s October survey, in which Gingrich was in third place, but at only 10% versus Romney’s 41%.
This is bad news for Romney if it holds true in further polling. He’s generally not competing in Iowa and is counting on a big victory in New Hampshire to propel him to the nomination. If the New Hampshire train derails, this is a wide open race.
In other Gingrich news, he has rehired some of his campaign staff who previously quit back in June. Report from the New York Times:
For Newt Gingrich, the latest twist on “what goes around, comes around” has an unusual personal dimension. On top of his surge in polls and fund-raising, Mr. Gingrich has rehired two of the Iowa staff members who quit during a mass exodus from his campaign in June.
More than a dozen paid organizers in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina resigned on the same day, saying Mr. Gingrich was unwilling to spend enough time on retail politics and casting into doubt his ability to remain in the race. Privately they complained that Mrs. Gingrich’s wife, Callista, was vetoing too many grass-roots appearances in favor of book-signings and TV dates. When the Gingriches dropped from sight for two weeks for a Greek cruise, almost their entire staff resigned. That, coupled with a report that Mr. Gingrich once had a $500,000 credit line at Tiffany’s, made the “Newtiny” a late-night punchline.
Mr. Gingrich vowed to soldier on, saying he was glad to be rid of the paid political “consultants.” But he plunged in the polls and donations evaporated.
Thanks to his solid performances in national debates, he has gradually gained supporters and donors, emerging at the top of some recent polls and flush with enough money to hire a new staff.
Last week he opened offices in New Hampshire and South Carolina. And on Thursday the campaign announced it had rehired Craig Schoenfeld, who had been state director in Iowa before the departures, and Katie Koberg, who had been deputy director. The hirings were first reported by The Des Moines Register.
I can’t help but wonder whether we’re witnessing yet another challenge to Mitt Romney that ends up fizzling out or if Gingrich will be able to mount a real challenge. The one plus side for Gingrich is that his baggage is generally public knowledge with many voters already aware of his personal life and political career including the ups and downs.