Before the Ames Straw Poll
Pro: According to a certain pessimistic logic, Gingrich should get out of the race as soon as humanly possible. He has not, to my recollection, enjoyed any piece of good news since announcing his candidacy. So maybe he should cut his losses, close the books on 2012 as a failed experiment, and save himself more agony. The Ames Straw Poll is important, in that it’s the first major test of early-state support, other than telephone polls conducted in Iowa and New Hampshire. It could separate the real candidates from the back-benchers. If Gingrich pulls out before the straw poll, he’ll avoid likely public confirmation that his campaign hasn’t taken hold in Iowa.
Con: If Gingrich doesn’t even last until the straw poll, well, he’ll pretty much confirm that his run wasn’t gaining traction anyway. With Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul all vying for straw poll votes, the best Gingrich can realistically hope for is third place or worse. Which wouldn’t be so bad. Sticking around for the straw poll would allow Gingrich to spend his $1 million organizing around a nominally positive result.