New PPP polling in Iowa is showing Ron Paul maintaining a lead over Mitt Romney in Iowa, followed by Newt Gingrich. The Hill is reporting that Newt Gingrich's failure to counter the barrage of negative attack ads from his opponents has led to his fall in Iowa. The Gingrich campaign is lowering expectations in Iowa, saying it would be content with a lower place finish in Iowa and that it will still dominate in South Carolina.
Here are some reasons you shouldn't count Gingrich out in Iowa:
(1) People hate negative ads.
Mitt Romney and Ron Paul appear to have momentum in Iowa largely because of the barrage of negative ads launched against Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich has only countered with positive ads reinforcing his message of conservative job creation.
While negative ads do a lot of damage, they don't articulate a coherent message and they turn a lot of voters on the ground off. In 2004, for example, John Kerry engineered a come-from-behind victory in Iowa against Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean as the two candidates sparred with ferocious, negative ads.
(2) Newt Gingrich has a positive message.
As mentioned before, Newt Gingrich has sought to promote his record on deficits and job creation as Speaker of the House. This is a message that may resonate with Republican voters. Gingrich should articulate this message more clearly. Negative attacks only create momentum in politics when the positive message is not coming through.
(3) The polling does not reflect on-the-ground organization, and possible conservative Christian turnout.
Conservative Christians propelled Mike Huckabee to victory in 2008. Furthermore, the Iowa contest is a caucus instead of a primary, which means organizing voters to show up is a key factor. While some speculate that Rick Santorum, a favorite of social conservatives and the number two choice of many Republican caucus-goers, could engineer a victory, Gingrich may also gain a healthy share of the Iowa conservative Christian vote.
Unveil a new, memorable plan very soon - along the lines of a "21st Century Contract for America." The ad market has been saturated with considerable money, and the Gingrich campaign does not have the resources to compete. However, it could dominate the debate in the next few days if it puts out a bold, positive plan that highlights Gingrich's message and puts his opponents on the defensive.
This is not to say that Newt Gingrich would win, or that we endorse any candidate in any party. His campaign is right that Gingrich can be content with a lower-place finish in Iowa and a strong finish in South Carolina because Ron Paul's momentum will likely stop in Iowa and Mitt Romney still cannot resonate with the Republican electorate. We are just saying that, for the reasons stated above, you should not count him out of a first place finish in Iowa.