It's been a rarity in this election, but for once, I was right. Two weeks ago, I predicted that Newt Gingrich would rebound after six debates in three weeks. Yesterday, Rasmussen showed I was correct. In a new Rasmussen poll of Likely GOP Voters, Mitt "Mittens" Romney is gaining 30% of the national vote to Newt Gingrich's 27% (a virtual tie given the +/- 3% margin of error).
As of this poll, Mitt's still winning in South Carolina by 14 points, but remember, Rasmussen has not conducted a South Carolina poll since the debates. Given that Newt has gained 11 points in Rasmussen's national polls, it is reasonable to guess that he has gained at least proportionally in South Carolina (if not more, since South Carolina is a staunchly conservative state and is the neighbor to the north of Newt's home state of Georgia.
There's still another debate coming tonight before South Carolina, so there's time for Newt to continue his precipitous climb. A few things need to happen to see Newt climb back into the driver's seat: He needs to win or come in a close second in South Carolina; and Rick Santorum needs to recognize that his win in Iowa is unlike to be repeated given the inability of the Senator to continue his retail politics plan that worked in Iowa.
If we can do that and combine the "Not Mitt" vote behind one candidate (and I continue to believe Gingrich is the best Not-Mitt available - since he has a significant lead over Santorum in SC and nearly twice Santorum's support in FL) we can still see a major challenge to Mittens. It won't happen in South Carolina, but in Florida it could make a big difference. Take the current Real Clear Politics Florida Average and do a little math. Rick Perry dropped out today and endorsed Newt, and I think you can expect the vast majority of Perry's votes to go to Newt. Hypothetically, if Santorum drops out and 3/4 of his voters go to Newt and 1/4 to go to Mittens (I don't expect solid conservatives to float to the libertarian Ron Paul) , then figure Jon Huntsman's voters split evenly between Mittens and Newt, you're looking at Newt with 42.5% and Mittens with 46%. That can be overcome, especially with two debates leading up to Florida.
Bottom line, my friends, is we can still combine the Not-Mitt voters and defeat Mittens in favor of a stronger conservative. But I am telling you now that if we're going to beat Mittens, it's going to be Newt. Either way, Newt is on the incline. Game on.