Poll shows former U.S. Speaker Newt Gingrich as latest GOP presidential frontrunner

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, has moved to first place among the field of Republican Party presidential candidates in the latest survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP). The poll, released on Monday, shows Gingrich with 28 percent support; three points ahead of businessman Herman Cain, and ten points ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. The result reflects a thirteen point increase for Gingrich since last month's PPP survey.

Gingrich in October 2011
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Gingrich, 68, represented the sixth congressional district of Georgia for twenty years (1979–1999), four of which were spent as Speaker (1995–1999). In 1995 he was named Time Magazine's Man of the Year for his leadership in the Republican Party's takeover of Congress. Since leaving Congress, he has worked in the private sector and academia.

Gingrich's 2012 presidential campaign had a rocky start earlier this year. In May, during an interview on Meet the Press, he criticized a conservative-backed budget plan as "right-wing social engineering", and later in the month, was reported to have sustained a hefty debt at Tiffany & Co. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor observed that "Many have said now he's finished." This summer, his campaign took its greatest hit when most of his campaign staff resigned. In July, Gingrich's support fell to one percent in a Zogby International poll.

At this point, Gingrich tried to focus on the presidential debates. According to CNN, voters responded well to both his attacks on the media and his political ideas, including his new "Contract with America", stylized after the document he helped draft ahead of the 1995 Republican takeover. In late September, Gingrich returned to double digits in a Fox News poll. In October, he raised $3 million.

According to the The Daily Caller, Gingrich's latest surge likely came about from last week's debate performances. However, it also coincides with the decreasing support for Herman Cain amid sexual harassment allegations. PPP determined that 73 percent of Cain supporters hold a favorable opinion of Gingrich, compared to 68 percent of all Republicans.

Analysts now consider Gingrich as the anti-Romney candidate, an alternative for conservatives who believe Mitt Romney is too liberal. This position had previously been filled by Representative Michele Bachmann, Texas governor Rick Perry, and most recently Herman Cain.

Gingrich hopes his message will resonate better with voters than the previous frontrunners, and that this will lead to his election.