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Newt's Squeeze on Mitt

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney share a laugh during a break in the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, June 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

December 7, 2011

The new CNN/Time/ORC polls out today for the first four states on the Republican calendar underscore the breadth of Newt Gingrich's rise - and the extent of the threat confronting the erstwhile front-runner Mitt Romney.

In each of the states except New Hampshire, Gingrich is consolidating the voters that have long been the most skeptical of Romney, while dividing those that had been most open to the former Massachusetts governor. That's a formula for success - if the former speaker can maintain it, admittedly a big question.

(RELATED: Gingrich Leads in Three of Four New Early-State Polls)

Gingrich is now succeeding among both sides of the party - dominating among the vanguard half that identifies with the tea party movement, and holding his own with the less ideological half that does not. What's more, the evidence from these polls suggests that along each track, the voters most skeptical of Romney are moving to unite behind Gingrich, at least for now. In particular, among the groups most dubious of Romney, Gingrich is now attracting much larger shares of the vote than any single candidate did in surveys earlier this fall.

 

In all four states, Gingrich now leads Romney among GOP primary voters who identify with the tea party movement. Gingrich's share of the vote among tea party supporters has increased as if launched from a rocket: since the last round of CNN/Time/ORC polls in late October he's up from 13 percent with them in Iowa to 40; in New Hampshire he's jumped from 6 to 37; in South Carolina from 11 to 53; and in Florida from 14 all the way to 62.

 

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