There is a new front runner in the Republican nomination for president, one who has frankly not been recognized as a front runner, given the nature of the media and the reporting on the contrast. That front runner is Newt Gingrich, who in the new Iowa Insider Advantage poll has a 15% lead over Mitt Romney. That lead, which is well beyond the margin of error, suggests that he is now in a commanding position in Iowa, which could well lead to a victory of the size and scope that Mike Huckabee won four years ago.
But beyond that, Gingrich is 28 points ahead in South Carolina, the third primary, which would be a landslide victory for the former Georgia Congressman should the numbers hold up.
With New Hampshire now within 10 points, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney running ahead of Gingrich only here, there is every reason to believe that the combination of the Manchester Union Leader's endorsement, and the former Speaker's now likely victory in Iowa will tighten the race even more in the Granite state.
Further, given the newly released Florida numbers, which show Gingrich with a commanding 24 point lead over Mitt Romney, there is every reason to believe that the race has swung decisively in the direction of the former Speaker. The former Speaker is benefitting not only from superlative debate performances, but also from the decline and perhaps fall of Herman Cain. Polls show that the former Cain voters are breaking by at least 2 to 1, and in some cases 3 to 1, for former speaker Gingrich.
Put another way, if Gingrich wins Iowa, is very competitive in New Hampshire, and wins South Carolina and Florida in landslides, the race will effectively be over.
To be sure, there are a lot of "ifs" here, but all of the momentum is now with Gingrich. At the very least, winning 3 of the 4 contests will give Gingrich a huge leg up on the contest for the nomination, and will mean that he is in, at the very least, a commanding position.
Moreover, the last two national polls that have been released by CNN and Quinnipiac show Gingrich with a 4 point lead nationally in Republican trial heat, as his position has improved by roughly 1.5% per week.
What does all of this mean for the race?
First, the Romney campaign has got to go into attack mode quickly. They simply cannot afford to sit back and get trounced in Iowa and South Carolina, and face the prospect of a substantial defeat in Florida.
It also means that Gingrich, so far, has not been adversely impacted by his comments on immigration last week, as the two polls that Insider Advantage did in South Carolina and Iowa were done after he made his comments in the National Security debate on the need for a path to legalization for illegal immigrants.
The prospect of a race between Gingrich and Obama should suggest the degree of volatility there is in the national race, and the possibility of additional candidates from the left, right, and most of all, center, entering the contest.
But more fundamentally, the most recently released polling shows that the world on the Republicans side has probably changed, and those changes are going to impact on the strategies of President Obama, and most importantly, Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney's campaign is now in desperate trouble-- more desperate than ever before!
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. His most recent book is "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Douglas E. Schoen has served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton and is currently working with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He has more than 30 years experience as a pollster and political consultant. He is also a Fox News contributor and co-host of "Fox News Insiders" Sundays on Fox News Channel and Mondays at 10:30 am ET on FoxNews.com Live. He is the author of ten books including,“Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What it Means for 2012 and Beyond” (Rowman and Littlefield 2012). Follow Doug on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.