As most Saturdays are, the news was pretty slow. The one bit of news the new Des-Moines Register poll, which placed Newt in a statistical tie for 4th place.
The poll, which is almost seen as gospel by some people, does not have a great track record lately, but let's say it's a 100% accurate snapshot of this moment.
It's the same story as the other polls lately: Cain is the conservative alternative to Romney at this moment, Ron Paul is guaranteed to get 10-12% (and won't move up or down from that range), and Newt and Perry are vying to oust Cain as the anti-Romney.
I am not going to write off Perry at all, because he does have a ton of money and, when retail campaigning, is a good candidate. But I don't see his debate performances improving much; he's never been a good debater, going back to Texas. And he has so far been much too negative toward Romney. While Perry's attacks will probably hurt Romney -- though I think Romney is a little like Paul in that he has reached his ceiling but probably has hit his basement too -- they will not help Perry.
A Perry-Romney ad war, millions of negative ads, guarantees one thing: Perry is not going to be the nominee. This is what happened in the Democrat Primary in 2004. Heading into Iowa, Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt were seen as the two favorites. They ripped into each other so much, though, that they destroyed each other's chances, allowing John Kerry to slip in, win Iowa, and eventually the nomination.
Romney could possibly survive such a scenario if conservatives do not coalesce around a single candidate. But honestly, if conservatives do get behind a single candidate -- not splintering their vote five ways -- Romney is probably done no matter what.
So if the media tries to spin this poll as being ultra-negative for Newt, don't fall for it. They are the same people who two months ago said Perry-Romney were the only two candidates who mattered. And two weeks before that they were saying Bachmann was a front-runner.
Only about 30% of Cain's supporters say they are strongly committed to him, so this race is incredibly fluid. Newt, while not attacking Cain, is starting to draw contrasts on tax policy, experience -- and next weekend is the one-on-one debate between the two. Followed by a regular debate on November 9th. And a foreign policy debate soon after that.
This wasn't a ground-breaking post, but it was meant to fight back against the media declaring a winner based on a poll two months before votes are cast, before Newt has fully built an organization in Iowa, and before he gets to debate Cain one-on-one.
The full results of the Des-Moines Register poll will be released later this morning, and I will have more on it then.