So can Newt hold on? Not to win the nomination. That boat has sailed and is pretty much over the horizon. But can he hold on through February and still command enough media attention to credibly remain in the race?
As I noted earlier, even in the context of Mitt’s ninja stomp on Newt, there’s still a clear regional pattern to the results. (See the election results map.) Mitt basically crushed Newt everywhere in the state except the Panhandle. But in the Panhandle — which is culturally very much part of the South — Newt won most of the counties. The few places he lost were in major urban areas. That suggests Mitt is still having a hard time winning in the South — exactly the problem he had in South Carolina.
The problem for Newt is that the February states don’t give him a lot to work with. Missouri is the one exception, which has culturally Southern lower tier. But he managed not to get on the ballot there. So that doesn’t help him a great deal.
He has to hang on until Super Tuesday and the week following Super Tuesday to really strike some damage against Romney — again, assuming people still remember he’s in it. On Super Tuesday, March 6th, you have Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. He didn’t get on the ballot in Virginia. And Georgia’s his home state. So that will be discounted to a significant degree. The the following week on March 13th, you have Alabama and Mississippi, which should again be good opportunities for Newt. The question is can he stay in and even more importantly, keep the polarizing of the GOP still humming for six weeks?
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.