I have mentioned to you before that when it comes to making political predictions I am exactly 50-50. I am wrong exactly as often as I am correct, thus you can't make any money betting on what I say, nor betting against me.
As a case in point let me direct your attention to MULLINGS from May 20, 2011, in which I wrote:
In the week or so since Newt formally announced that he was a candidate for President, his campaign has gone from sputtering to on the rocks.
I, like just about everyone else inside the Beltway, declared has candidacy over and his quest for the Presidency dead.
In a poll released late last week Mitt Romney was leading Republican candidates with 23%; but Newt Gingrich was right on his heels at 19% (just outside the margin of error which was 3.5% among registered voters in the poll).
Herman Cain may be succumbing to both political gravity and the grave nature of the charges against him and was at 17 percent in this poll.
Ron Paul was steady at 10 percent, Rick Perry led the back of the pack with 8%, Michele Bachman was at 5%, John Huntsman and Rick Santorum cemented their status as the wingmen on the debate stage by coming in with one percent each.
Back to Newt.
Here his theory:
The two candidates who are stable in their numbers are Romney (with a ceiling of about 25 percent of GOP voters) and Ron Paul (who will stay between six and 10 percent).
That leaves about 65 percent of Republican voters looking for a home. Cain will continue to drift downward (my words, not Newt's); Santorum, Huntsman, and Bachman are, and will continue to be minor players.
So, Newt's thinking goes, he doesn't need to beat Romney - he needs to consolidate the non-Romney vote and he's the only one who can do that.
He puts his chances of winning the nomination (this was Friday, prior to the CBS debate) at 50-50 and if he wins the nomination he is absolutely convinced he will beat Obama.
Looking back four years it is easy to see why Newt feels this is a very fluid situation. According to RealClearPolitics.com this week in 2007 Rudy Giuliani was sitting atop the GOP field at 30%. Behind him - well behind him were Fred Thompson (16% and John McCain 15%). Romney was just behind them at 12%, Mike Huckabee was at 9 and Ron Paul was at 4 percent.
The Iowa results just six weeks later Giuliani got the support of only three percent of the caucus-goers (although he had announced he would not campaign there) and Mike Huckabee won with 34 percent.
On the other side of the aisle at this point in the proceeding four years ago Hillary Clinton had an insurmountable lead over Barack Obama of 48 - 21. John Edwards was third with 12 percent.
On caucus night, Obama won with 38 percent of the votes, Edwards and Clinton tied with about 30 percent each.
Note Obama's percentage. It strengthens Newt's argument.
Sixty-two percent of Iowa voters wanted someone other than Barack Obama four years ago. The only reason he won was because Hillary and Edwards almost precisely split 60 percent of the votes.
If Newt can avoid splitting the votes of Conservatives in Iowa, he might well win there on January 3.
Because I am not a complete novice, I also wrote this as part of that same May 20 MULLINGS:
Can he recover? Of course he can. One of Newt's strongest points has been his ability to ride out a rough patch and emerge to drive down the highway at full speed.
As Bette Davis once almost said, "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride!"
Asymmetrical Politics: Republicans Act Like an Unruly Mob, Democrats Like a Regimented Army | Michael Barone