On second thought, maybe Gingrich’s Space Coast Lunar Pander is less the product of the candidate’s self-confidence than of his need to nail down some votes. After racing into the lead in Florida (and nationally) following his big win in South Carolina, Newt now seems to be falling behind Romney in the Sunshine State, according to new polls from CNN/ORC and Insider Advantage.

Some observers will no doubt attribute Gingrich’s slight fade in Florida to his inability to get oxygen from the feral roar of an angry audience in Monday’s NBC debate in Tampa. Perhaps there’s something to that. But a more likely factor is simply money: Romney has been burying him in many milllions of dollars in unopposed campaign and Super-PAC ads in Florida. Now that the Adelson family has looked under the sofa cushions and found another $5 million to toss into the fray, Gingrich’s Super-PAC has bought a reported $6 million in ads for the state. Between that equalizer and the potential for drama and nastiness in tonight’s debate in Jacksonville, it’s far too early to tell who will have the momentum when Floridians vote next Tuesday. It sure would help Gingrich if Rick Santorum did indeed, as has been rumored, write off the state as just too expensive for his taste.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.