Via Dave Weigel, I’m torn between hoping it doesn’t happen since that would almost certainly mean Romney will be the nominee and hoping that it does just because blogging the chaos in the aftermath would be so much fun. On the one hand, you’d have the Karl Roves of the world breathing into paper bags, and on the other you’d have Paul fans outraged that the national media has dared start to vet him. Postworthy anger from every corner for days on end.
Naturally, as Paul’s InTrade odds have soared in Iowa, so have Romney’s odds on being the nominee. He’s up to 68.4 percent as I write this while Gingrich has collapsed to 8.3 percent — just one tenth of one percent ahead of, um, Ron Paul thanks to all the terrible polls for him today. The Gallup tracking poll has him down to a two-point lead nationally over Romney after leading by 14 just 10 days ago. And here’s one more Iowa poll, this time from Insider Advantage, that Ed and Tina didn’t get to this morning:
Not only is Perry starting to peel off some of Newt’s votes, Gingrich’s core demographic support — the 65+ crowd — has apparently begun to abandon ship. If that’s true, i.e. Insider Advantage isn’t an outlier, then he’s truly done for. I can’t fathom why he insisted on “staying positive” in Iowa while Paul’s campaign and Romney’s Super PAC were busy tearing him to pieces on the air. Maybe he calculated that he could best ease voters’ worries about the erratic “bad Newt” by showing discipline and training his fire exclusively on Obama and policy critiques. Looks like he crapped out on that bet, and with no more debates scheduled before the caucuses, there’s no opportunity for him to turn the tide. As for Paul, as good as his numbers look right now, I wonder if he’s surging a week too early. Beltway Republicans might not care about him winning Iowa unless and until he threatens Romney in New Hampshire too — which may not be as unlikely as it seems — but the Iowa Republican establishment doesn’t want a batch of “does Iowa still matter?” stories on January 4. There are plenty of undecideds still out there to be swayed; could be that some of the state’s prominent social conservatives will now line up behind Perry instead of, say, Santorum simply because Perry’s got a better chance of heading off a Paul victory.
Here’s the latest archived clip rescued from oblivion by C-SPAN junkie Andy Kaczynski, a 1999 quick take of Newt describing himself as a “Theodore Roosevelt progressive” when it comes to ethics and fighting corruption. Matt Lewis is right that the P-word meant something a little different 12 years ago than it does now, but even the current definition fits Newt a bit better than it should. Read Mark Steyn in NRO on “The Gingrich Gestalt”: “I’d prefer to formulate it this way: Gingrich is a pushover for progressivism who’s succeeded in passing himself off as a hard-line right-wing bastard.” Oh, and be sure to read Philip Klein’s response too to Ron Paul fans who want it both ways when it comes to the media taking their guy seriously but not so seriously that they start looking at those old newsletters again. Exit quotation: “Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have both attacked each other for what was written in their respective books. If either of those books had included a number of overtly racist statements, their candidacies would be over before they started. If they used the Ron Paul defense – that they didn’t write the words themselves, they didn’t know what was in the books and don’t even know who wrote them, it would only make matters worse. They could kiss their political careers goodbye.”