Saturday, December 3, 2011

The crowds Newt is attracting in Iowa

My three trips to Iowa -- which have started on July 15, September 29, and December 1 -- really demonstrate the upward arc of Newt's campaign.

In July, Newt's campaign was close to its nadir. I had every confidence that Newt would rebound, but there's no doubting that the campaign was hurting at that time. One of the reasons, however, I was still confident that Newt's support would increase was that everywhere we went -- whether an Iowa Cubs baseball game, a tea party event in Lamoni, or the Dallas County Fair -- people were very excited about Newt and praised his ideas.

That showed me that Newt's poll position -- he was in 5th place -- at that time was not because his message was not popular. It was in large part because the media was calling the campaign dead every day, and people were not eager to jump on board with a campaign that might end any day. (The most irresponsible thing that a number of reporters did was suggest that Newt might drop out at any time, despite no evidence to that.)

So, I thought, if Newt could get a small bump in the polls, that would prove the campaign's viability to others who were fond of Newt's solutions. I think it's fair to suggest Newt's Ames Debate performance -- when he called out Chris Wallace's "Mickey Mouse questions" -- was what got Newt 2012 started in an upward trajectory.

I was back in Iowa about a month-and-a-half later for Newt's unveiling of the 21st Century Contract with America. Newt was now essentially tied for third in the polls. You could sense the growing momentum.

Jen Green wrote on that it was about this time that Newt 2012 really started picking up steam. "After reading [the Contract's section on reforming the judiciary] I knew it was going to be a game-changer," Green wrote.

And this trip this weekend is really showing how much different Newt's lead in the polls is than those of Perry, Bachmann, Cain, etc.

Newt's first event Thursday was set up for 370 people. More than 500 showed up. Jason Clayworth of the Des Moines-Register noted that the crowd was bigger than the one Mitt Romney was able to draw at the same venue.

Newt's next appearance also had about 500 people.

The Polk County GOP Victory Dinner later that night had 400 people.

Newt -- whether it's South Carolina, Florida, or Iowa -- has been packing in the crowds recently. Bigger crowds than any other candidate this year.

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