DES MOINES — Propelled by his debate performances and the demise
of Herman Cain’s candidacy, former House speaker Newt Gingrich sits atop
the Republican presidential field in Iowa with a clear lead over his
closest competitors, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Gingrich, according to the survey, has advantages that extend
well beyond the horse race that put him in an enviable position in the
final weeks before the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses, which serve as the
formal start of the long nominating season. On electability, empathy and
handling the economy, he does as well as or better than former
Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has long been described as the
nominal front-runner for the nomination, or Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.).
With 33 percent support among likely caucus-goers in the new poll,
Gingrich runs well ahead of his two main rivals, Romney and Paul, a
libertarian whose passionate following and anti-government rhetoric have
made him a durable force in the race. Both are at 18 percent.