NEWT Gingrich, whose career seemed dead and buried just weeks ago, has capitalised on Herman Cain's exit to establish a huge lead in the early-voting states that could decide the Republican White House race.
A poll in the 'Washington Post' yesterday put him 15 points ahead of Mitt Romney, the nominal front-runner whose victory had been seen as a given by political analysts.
Mr Gingrich has similarly large leads in two of the other three states that hold presidential primaries next month and is steadily closing the gap in the fourth, Mr Romney's once-impregnable stronghold of New Hampshire.
The stunning rise of the former Speaker of the House has banished any chance that the demise of Mr Cain, who effectively ended his bid at the weekend, would see support reluctantly rally around Mr Romney.
The 'Washington Post'/ABC poll gave him 33pc support in Iowa, with Mr Romney and Ron Paul both on 18pc. Mr Gingrich has a similar 15-point lead in South Carolina, with Rick Perry third.
In Florida, Mr Gingrich has a 25-point gap on Mr Romney, while the latter's once-huge lead in New Hampshire has been halved to around 15 points.
Moreover, Mr Gingrich may soon be endorsed by Mr Cain, who is a friend and fellow Georgian. (© Independent News Service)