Bottom Falls Out for Newt

As tomorrow’s Florida primary grows imminent, Newt Gingrich’s luck seems finally to have run out. Every available bit of polling data shows a strong trend in favor of Mitt Romney in the Sunshine State. Nate Silver’s fairly conservative projections now indicate a 13-point win for Romney.

Aside from Gingrich’s bad debate performances in Florida, which undermined the very rationale of his candidacy, and the pounding he’s been getting from conservative opinion-leaders as well as “Republican Establishment” types, his financial disadvantage is worse than was originally advertised. An estimate widely circulated over the weekend suggests that Team Gingrich has invested a total of $3.3 million in Florida ads (well short of the $6 million that Super-PAC Winning Our Future earlier claimed it had bought) through tomorrow, as compared to well over $15 million for Mitt and friends.

The one bright spot for Gingrich over the weekend was a late endorsement from Herman Cain (which probably surprised those who misunderstood Cain’s 2008 endorsement of then-movement-conservative-candidate Mitt Romney as indicating a preference for Mitt this year). Apart from giving late-night comics a lot of cheap material about the solidarity of hound dogs on the campaign trail, the endorsement probably just means that if Newt surives until the March 6 Georgia primary, a loss to Romney there really could mean the end.

The most amusing meme of the weekend was the spate of stories questioning exactly how angry or crazy Newt actually is, given his predictable promise to stay in the race for months and months. I dunno: he has a long history of saying irresponsible things and then turning to the nearest observer–often one of the “liberal media” people he has just attacked–to ask how well he pulled it off. He easily could vow to plunge the Republican Party to the bottom of hell before giving up–and then the next minute endorse Mitt and head off with Callista for another Mediterranean cruise.

So whatever dramatics Gingrich stages today or tomorrow in Florida, or tomorrow night when he gets crushed, it’s worth remembering the man thinks he’s Winston Churchill, and will eventually be called to lead America even if he’s as old as Ron Paul. In the mean time, there is money to be made.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.