The latest CNN/ORC national survey showing Newt Gingrich surging to a statistical tie with Mitt Romney captures not only the continuing volatility of the GOP's most conservative wing, but cracks in Romney's standing among the party's more managerial and moderate voters.
Most directly, the CNN/ORC poll underscored the persistent inability of the GOP's conservative vanguard to settle on an alternative to Romney. In the poll, Gingrich now leads among Republican voters who identify with the tea party movement, drawing 29 percent. That's an 18 percentage point increase over the 11 percent Gingrich attracted among those voters in CNN's mid-October poll. Gingrich's gain among the tea party contingent is matched almost exactly vote for vote by Herman Cain's loss: he plummeted from 39 percent among them in October to just 22 percent now. Cain's ascent with the tea party came after Texas Gov. Rick Perry suffered a similar collapse with those voters from September through October.