2) Newt’s percentage

Not much went right for Gingrich in Nevada, and another thrashing on the heels of Florida will be a deflating experience. On the other hand, finishing in second place ahead of Ron Paul — who finished second here in 2008 and has a significant presence in Nevada this time around — will remove some of the sting of a second consecutive loss.

Gingrich wins about a quarter of the vote in recent Nevada polls. The good news is that he’s polling that high despite bumbling through the state with a limited schedule of public events and no television buys at all. The bad news is that, if he remained at about 25 percent, his trajectory would be unmistakable: 40 percent in South Carolina, 32 percent in Florida, even less in Nevada.

But if the former House speaker were able to finish in second and win close to, or more than, a third of the vote it would suggest that even at a low point he maintains a reservoir of support among tea party activists and the very conservative — and that there continues to be a determined resistance to Romney.