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The latest Gallup daily track poll shows former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich surging further ahead of previous frontrunner Mitt Romney while Ron Paul fades to a distant third and into a virtual tie with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
Gingrich has 37 percent in the nationwide poll and Romney 15 points behind at 22 percent. Paul slips badly, down to eight percent while Perry has seven percent and Bachmann six.
“At the moment, we’re looking at a two-man race,” a veteran GOP political operative told Capitol Hill Blue Tuesday. “That could change after Iowa but at the moment this race belongs to Newt and Mitt and everyone else is a spectator.”
Just a week ago, Paul supporters felt confident their candidate could take Iowa but Gingrich’s surge comes at the Texas Congressman’s expense and his numbers are suffering in New Hampshire as well.
Gingrich appears poised to capture the Iowa caucuses, could pull an upset in New Hampshire, and has a solid leader in South Carolina. Even a second-place finish in New Hampshire could keep Gingrich in the running if he captures South Carolina.
“Newt may be this election season’s John McCain,” says the political operative. “Another candidate presumed dead in the summer rises from the ashes to become the nominee. Of course, we all know what happened to McCain in the general election.”