Democrats, of course, see Gingrich differently, and many dream of a race in which President Obama’s impressive re-election forces and the media really dig into the former House Speaker’s past – looking deeply and critically at the sometimes squirrely ideas he’s put forth (replacing school janitors with kids pushing brooms), his money-making ventures that have made him the quintessential wealthy Washington insider (including lobbying for the health care industry and housing mortgage giant Freddie Mac), a personality that comes across as aloof and arrogant.
As Jennifer Jacobs, the Des Moines Register’s chief political writer, observed in reporting the latest poll results Sunday, “Gingrich’s rivals are already starting to put him through the woodchipper.”
That includes some fellow Republicans who served with him in the House. Rep. Peter King (R) of Long Island (who has not endorsed anybody) recently referred to Gingrich as “condescending … undisciplined … pedantic” and with an “incredible sense of exaggeration.”
But in Iowa for now, the numbers tell a clear story.
Between June and November, Gingrich went from 7 percent to 25 percent. Mitt Romney dropped from 23 percent to 16 percent.
Still, it’s too early to call it a two-man race.
Ron Paul – the libertarian outlier most different among the rest of the Republican candidates – rose from 7 percent in June to 12 percent in October to 18 percent in November. He has an enthusiastic and well-organized base (only Michele Bachmann has shaken more hands in Iowa than Paul), but just 7 percent pick him as their second choice.
“This is where Paul is weak, in that he has little breadth from which to draw new support,” pollster J. Ann Selzer told the Des Moines Register.