It seems to be a particularly good day for Newt today pollwise. An Insider Advantage poll conducted Monday shows a 15 point lead for the former Speaker in Iowa. Newt gets 28%, Ron Paul is #2 with a little over 13% and Romney is in 3rd place with only 11.5%! This is also Romney's lowest poll number in Iowa since this race began. In the last Insider Advantage poll, conducted November 8th, Romney was at his usual 19%, so in 3 weeks he has lost about 40% of his support. I guess being dubbed "electable" by Ann Coulter just isn't enough for some people. What's also interesting from this latest poll is that Latino voters are breaking for Perry and Newt and Independents are very clearly staying away from Romney.
Insider Advantage also conducted a poll Monday in South Carolina, where Newt leads Romney by 23 points, 38% to 15%. Note that 38% is a highest level attained by any candidate this election cycle in a South Carolina based poll and Newt's lead is tied for the largest of any candidate since Perry led by 23 points in a PPP poll back in August. Considering this poll was conducted after the lobbying allegations, the immigration comments and all the other stuff the media/Romneybots have dredged up, this lead is probably much more secure than Perry's. Also, as in Iowa, Newt does well amongst the Latinos in the sample and Romney does horribly among the independents.
And finally we have the Rasmussen Reports poll in New Hampshire, the first one conducted after Newt's surprise endorsement by the only state-wide paper, the Manchester Union Leader. In this poll, Romney is down to a 10 point lead, one of the smallest leads he has had in this race. Given he was Governor next door and has been clearly focusing on New Hampshire for so long, it's amazing that 2/3 of New Hampshire voters are still saying "not Romney". In this poll you are even seeing 11% of NH voters going with Huntsman.
I do realize that polls can change on a dime but I think Newt should be feeling pretty good at this point given the amount of effort people have been putting in to try to shoot his candidacy down. First, there were his consulting contracts, which in the end nobody cares about but the pundits (I never really thought GOP voters would begrudge someone making a living in the private sector, Democrats might, but not Republicans). Most recently, there was the whole immigration kerfuffle. Prior statements from down-the-line conservatives in the race which lined up or matched Newts seems to have deflated that in a hurry. You've also had an ongoing barrage of pundits, from Ann Coulter to Jennifer Rubin getting completely unhinged by the prospects of a Newt nomination and trying to convince us that Romney is somehow inevitable despite not a single vote being cast yet. So after all that going on in what seems to be a non-stop fashion, Newt is still surging.
Today's news of Herman Cain reconsidering his candidacy signals that Newt's numbers are likely to get even better as Cain voters look for a new home. I would say that philosophical distance from Cain to Newt is much shorter than from Cain to Romney, so most of the core Cain supporters are likely to either break for Newt or go to another conservative candidate (I also wouldn't discount the possibility that Cain may officially endorse Gingrich). And judging by the latest poll numbers, there are still a large number of them out there. In the polls mentioned above, 10% of Iowa voters and 13% of South Carolina voters still consider Cain their top choice as of Monday.
With 5 weeks to go until Iowa, Newt is certainly in the drivers seat. Unless he drives himself into a ditch, of course.