Byron York

King's endorsement would mean a lot in the race. But so far he has held back, and at this late date it appears he will probably not endorse at all. Likewise, another top Iowa Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley, says he will most likely not endorse and, in fact, remains undecided.

"I have not chosen," Grassley says. "I've hung up on two pollsters." (Yes, pollsters call Grassley at his farm in New Hartford, Iowa, just like they call everybody else.)

It's always possible that something "dramatically fast and dramatically late" will happen to shake up the race. That's why Gingrich's opponents are hoping for some sort of Gingrich meltdown. But unless the former House speaker self-destructs, it seems that the race is what it is. Either Gingrich or Romney will win, or, if both fade, Ron Paul could take first.

For the moment at least, the Gingrich phenomenon continues. Vander Plaats was at a basketball game recently at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, in the state's very conservative northwestern corner. "The people I sat around -- these are northwest Iowa staunch Christian conservatives -- said they were surprising themselves, but they were moving to Gingrich," he says.

They're not the only ones surprised. Barring some dramatic change, Gingrich's rise is the late-breaking development everybody was looking for -- and nobody expected.

(Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.

Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner