Even after he loses today’s primary in Florida, Newt Gingrich has promised to soldier on all the way to the convention in August. As John Heilemann wrote earlier this week, the former Speaker, unlike many candidates who vow perseverance to the end, might be crazy enough to actually mean it. Gingrich’s chances aren’t great: As TPM points out this morning, he lacks the money, the organization, and the party support of, say, Hillary Clinton when she took her second-place campaign all the way to the end of the Democratic primaries. But if you ask us, there are plenty of reasons for Gingrich to stay in the race. Here are five of them:
- This Chart: Just look at this chart of the GOP race so far. The GOP electorate is fickle, volatile, and not totally fond of Mitt Romney, who has barely led national polling since mid-September. Gingrich alone has experienced not one, but two enormous surges over the past two months. What makes a third so impossible?
- Debates: With much less ad money than Romney, and fewer surrogates, Gingrich has relied on debates to get his message out and make an impression on voters. Unfortunately for Gingrich, no debates are scheduled, for some reason, until February 22. But fortunately for Gingrich, only a few states — Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri (but not really) — are voting before then. And then they’re back! After the debate on February 22, there’s one scheduled for March 1 and another for March 5. If Gingrich can manage to return to form in those debates, his third surge could happen just in time for Super Tuesday on March 6.
- Rick Santorum: Santorum is not going to win, and unlike Ron Paul, he’s probably not going to keep running just to ensure that his message is part of the conversation. He’ll drop out, at some point, putting about one sixth of the GOP electorate up for grabs. Now, some polls have shown Santorum supporters favoring Gingrich over Romney as a second choice. Some have shown them favoring Romney. It really depends on the overall momentum of the race at that moment. But Gingrich would have a reasonable opportunity to grab a majority of Santorum supporters.
- Sheldon Adelson: Gingrich may not boast Romney’s money, but he does have the undying devotion of billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who has shelled out $10 million to pro-Gingrich super PACs over the past few weeks. The guy is worth something like $22 billion, and there’s nothing stopping him from dropping $100 million of it on Gingrich. Or $300 million. Or a billion. That would be crazy, but so is the affection Adelson has for Gingrich.
- Mitt Romney: There’s no telling what horrible things could befall Romney in the coming months. Maybe some damning tax revelations will leak out. Maybe a former Bain executive will turn up and admit that he and Romney used to smoke cigars filled with $100 bills as they laughed maniacally about the companies they’d looted. Maybe Romney will be caught on camera insisting that corporations are more personlike than fetuses. You can never know. If a major gaffe should damage Romney, it’s not going to help Gingrich unless he’s still in the race.
- Bonus Reason: The next few months would be a lot less boring for us media types.