So it looks like a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. But remember, just a month ago, nobody but Romney and Cain could break 20%. And three months ago, it was nobody but Romney and Perry, with Perry the presumed front-runner. So don't get too excited. That being said, the voting starts in a month, and there isn't much time for Gingrich to fade and be replaced by Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, or whoever else is left.
Why should we expect Gingrich to fade? Because he's damaged goods. He's only polling well because he performed well in the debates, where he was better-informed, more forthright, and less catty than anybody else on the set. Those are not, unfortunately, Gingrich's most universally described character traits.
Conservative Jennifer Rubin wields the knife, with quotes from Ramesh Ponnuru:
very serious flaw... perils of Gingrich... innovative-sounding... wholly absurd... incendiary... grandiose... abrasive... opportunist... serial infidelity... multiple ex-wives... lobbying... lobbying... lobbying... ultimate Washington insider... self-indulgent... obtuse... dishonest... megalomania... recklessness... disorganization.Her argument is a lot more nuanced than what I've presented. But this particular list of flaws seems a lot more damning, especially in the current political environment, than Romney's wishy-washyness or over-produced image. More to Rubin's point, conservative opinion leaders have already turned on Gingrich, and conservative voters will follow.