Spinning Newt

So readers of my last post–or indeed, of most stories written about the Republican presidential nominating contest during the last few days–may be surprised to learn that Newsmax is touting a new Insider Advantage poll that it says shows that Newt Gingrich is now “surging” in Florida, just like he did before his big win in South Carolina:

“The race will be tighter than expected,” Matt Towery, chief pollster of InsiderAdvantage told Newsmax.

Towery noted that his poll showed a surge for Romney on Wednesday, with him leading Gingrich by 8 points. The InsiderAdvantage poll was among the first to show Romney’s resurgence after his dismal showing in the S. Carolina primary.

The InsiderAdvantage poll was also the first to show Gingrich’s rise in S. Carolina and accurately forecast his win there.

“The trend is favoring Gingrich,” Towery said, noting that while Romney’s lead was still outside the margin of error of 3.8 percent, “It’s not by much.”

Now Newsmax (best known as the journalistic mothership for Birtherism) is not exactly the most credible source, and IA doesn’t have the best rep among pollsters. Moreover, Matt Towery is an old friend and protege of Gingrich’s. I am not saying IA would cook the books for Newt or anyone else; but Matt might be tempted to lend a little spin to Newmax’s reporting on the findings–say, by suggesting a small short-term within-the-margin-of-error increase in Gingrich’s support in a one-day poll represents some sort of trend, despite massive evidence elsewhere that Newt is going nowhere fast (PPP’s latest poll shows Romney’s surge slowing and his lead stabilizing, but that’s not the same thing).

But you can expect Newt’s own forces to take the thin reed of IA’s poll and Newsmax’s reporting on it and try to build a narrative of the Greatest Political Comeback Ever. What do they have to lose? Absolutely nothing.

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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.