Friday, May 13, 2011

Newt Gingrich Officially Announces He Is Running for President

 NOTE: This article was originally posted on Wednesday, May 11th.

The longstanding speculation about Gingrich has come to an end. Today, Gingrich made an official declaration that he will seek the Republican nomination for the presidency. The Campaign Status page has been updated; this is the first time that one of the major contenders has officially declared.

The timing of Gingrich's announcement is somewhat odd. Apparently he did not want to officially enter the race until after last week's debate. Gingrich may see himself as a top-tier candidate who shouldn't engage with second-tier candidates. In fact, Gingrich's poll numbers in the early primaries are quite weak. His only chance of winning the nomination is to deliver an outstanding performance at as many debates as possible.

Gingrich's path to victory remains unclear. The polling data for each early primary state is continually updated on the Primaries page. Gingrich's difficult task is plain to see: Despite his name recognition, he is neither first nor second in any poll in any state.

Some reporting suggests that Gingrich's campaign has focused on Iowa. But Gingrich's history of adultery, combined with several years of playing to the political center/left (e.g. on climate change), makes Iowa a difficult fit for Gingrich. New Hampshire, with its more independent bent, is probably where Gingrich will make his stand. So far, Romney is easily in the lead in that state. The competition will be fierce no matter where Gingrich chooses to play.

Gingrich comes with a lot of political baggage, and at a time when voters are looking for someone new. In an earlier post, we examined a poll showing 39% of Republicans are already opposed to Gingrich. Voters may change their minds about Gingrich, but they will have to see his intellectual capabilities firsthand at the debates. Gingrich needs to take risks and challenge his opponents directly. He will need to be a bit of a "brawler" on his home turf, because he will not win in a more traditional campaign.

There is one bright spot for Gingrich: People will take him more seriously now that he is actually running. For a long time, he had a reputation as someone who enjoyed flirting with the idea but never taking the leap. Now he has a chance to prove himself.

News posts related to Gingrich will have the Gingrich "tag". For detailed assessment of Gingrich's strengths, weaknesses, and strategy, view his Profile. Elephant Watcher calculates Gingrich has a 3% chance of winning the nomination.