Mitt Romney, sensing blood in the water, is deploying additional resources into Iowa as a new CNN Poll has him with a slight lead over Ron Paul. In this latest survey Newt Gingrich has dropped to fourth, behind Rick Santorum, who has campaigned real hard in Iowa over the past year.
The poll shows Romney at 25%, Paul at 22%, Santorum at 16%, Gingrich at 14%, (down from his prior 33%), Rick Perry at 11%, and Michelle Bachmann at 9%. The pounding that Gingrich has taken from the Romney and Paul campaigns has had the desired impact. He is sinking like a stone, with no organizational strength to prop him up.
Gingrich had to suffer the indignity of being unable to gather sufficient signatures in Virginia to qualify for the ballot, and then to have that failure magnified by Romney comparing it to Lucille Ball in a chocolate factory. As I pointed out when Gingrich had a mass walkout by campaign staff, and decided to cruise to the Greek Isles instead of working, organizational strength and fundraising win elections. He lacks both. And those chickens are now coming home to roost. He had an opportunity to deliver Romney some early blows, but his opportunity is rapidly slipping away. Finishing fourth, when he had a chance to win Iowa decisively, would be a big blow to his candidacy.
And what about the opposite of Newt, which would have to be Rick Santorum. He has been struggling with anemic poll numbers, but he has refused to quit, working as hard as he could, operating on a shoestring budget, and now rising to third place. I don’t agree with Santorum on much, but you have to admire his tenacity. His numbers outside of Iowa remain terrible, but he has made a real impact in Iowa, and appears to have gained largely at Newt Gingrich’s expense, a direct benefit to the Mittster. If Romney pulls this out you will have to give great credit to his strategic thinking. If he finishes second to Ron Paul I think it is almost as good as a win.