Gingrich surges ahead in key Iowa poll as Romney slumps
NEWT Gingrich's unlikely resurgence in the race for the Republican presidential candidacy has gathered pace, with the former House Speaker extending his lead in the polls in Iowa, the first state to vote in the contest.
Two surveys from the state, where the caucuses take place on January 3, put Mr Gingrich comfortably in the lead. Support for the favourite, the former Massachusetts' governor Mitt Romney, has sharply declined.
Mr Gingrich's extraordinary rise has also spread to New Hampshire, the second state to have its say next month, with one poll there placing him second to Mr Romney after a 19-point rise since October.
There was widespread speculation that Herman Cain, the former pizza tycoon who withdrew from the race on Saturday, would endorse his fellow Georgian Mr Gingrich and ask his supporters to back him before the Iowa vote.
Linda Upmeyer, the majority leader in the Iowa House of Representatives and Mr Gingrich's campaign chairwoman in the state, claimed it was clear that after a summer of "shopping around", Iowans were "settling on the Speaker".
"I'm hearing from Iowans that this is an important time for the country and they want someone who understands the issues," she said.
Polling averages show that Mr Gingrich is in the ascendancy in all four states due to vote in January -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida -- with Mr Romney's ratings dropping across the board.
A poll by Iowa's 'Des Moines Register' newspaper at the weekend put Mr Gingrich in the lead with 25pc of support, a rise of 18pc since late October. Mr Romney dropped to third place, falling six points to 16pc.
An NBC/Marist poll yesterday found that the thrice-married 68-year-old had the support of 26pc of likely caucus-goers, up 21 points since October. Mr Romney was second on 18pc, after an eight-point decline.
A survey in New Hampshire by the same group placed Mr Romney in the lead with 39pc, after a six-point decline since October, with Mr Gingrich up 19 points to 23pc.
Ron Paul, the libertarian Texas congressman who wants to abolish five government agencies, was third in both NBC/Marist polls and second in the newspaper's. (© Daily Telegraph, London)