Newt's 50 State Strategy

Newt Gingrich made it official yesterday.  He will be a candidate for the Republican nomination.  Although Newt has little chance of winning the nomination (if he was a mortgage loan, he would be underwater), he does have a strategy.  Newt sees the contest essentially as a war of attrition.  He knows that he has little chance to win Iowa with values voters usually in the ascendancy or New Hampshire, which will make or break the Romney candidacy as it did in 2008.  His hope is to survive Iowa and New Hampshire and, with Haley Barbour out of the race, win South Carolina and parlay that into a win in Florida.  Even a 2nd place in those states would keep his candidacy alive, because the winner take all contests have been deferred by the Republican party until April.  With so many candidates in the field and proportional apportionment of delegates in the early primaries/caucuses, Newt sees the opportunity to play in every state and continue to amass small numbers of delegates in each contest, as other candidates  opt out of competition in some states.  A key element in this strategy is that Newt has virtually 100% name recognition among voters and therefore won’tt have to spend the money that Pawlenty, Daniels, Cain, Bachmann and Santorum will just to get known.  He is betting that other better known candidates like Huckabee and Palin will stay out of the race.  He can also count on free media, especially from Fox News where he has been a contributor until recently.  His announcement yesterday culminated with an extended interview on Hannity, part of which was replayed on Greta Susteren’s show “On the Record”.  In Newt’s playbook, he can come in 2nd, 3rd or 4th and still be in 1st or 2nd place in the delegate count by April 1, when the winner-take-all primaries start.  Newt’s one real chance is to get the contest down to two or three candidates besides himself– let’s say Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann and/or Ron Paul.  At that point, he hopes the Republican establishment will come in hard on his behalf.  He has to see himself as much more likely to become the default candidate than say a Tim Pawlenty.  Until that happens, however, he is probably on his own.  The heavy hitters have all adopted a wait-and-see attitude.  The real question is: Can Gingrich actually make it to the Iowa caucus without imploding?