I felt something shift in the last debate. And the resort to Gingrich has to be something of a final insult. There's got to be a limit to the humiliation of a front-runner like this. Ezra Klein still thinks Romney is the most likely nominee, but Ezra isn't blind:
Romney is having enough trouble adding supporters that he’s clearly vulnerable to a run of bad luck or bad news coming at the wrong time. And thus far, the primary has been so focused on a medium in which he shines — debates —that his flaws in interviews, his vulnerability to ads portraying him as a flip-flopper, and his weaknesses as a retail politician haven’t really been tested.
Josh Marshall has similar thoughts:
We probably need to wait until mid-December to know whether Newt’s surge is real or just another boom and bust. But it seems different; it feels different. … so far, Newt just seems more durable than the others. And suddenly Mitt looks a lot less inevitable.
Jonathan Chait piles on:
It is not that Republicans won’t vote for Romney. It’s that Romney does not capture their fundamental attitude toward Obama. He can adopt the positions of the base, but he can’t seem to ape their feeling of fear and outrage toward the current president. Gingrich may lack money and organization, but he has a real opportunity, and Romney surely knows it.
Oddly, I find Romney's dismissal of Obama to be among the most extreme. But the extremism – the apology claptrap, the "no foreign policy" canard, the "he made the recession worse" line etc. – somehow also seems inauthentic. Or, rather, it's as if he knows he has a problem and is over-reaching to solve it, rather than actually, you know, say what he thinks. Jonathan Bernstein, on the other hand, is betting Romney will prevail:
Does the Newt Gingrich polling surge mean that Mitt Romney is finished, or at least in serious trouble? No — in fact, Romney remains a heavy favorite in the race, regardless of what the current headlines lifted from those surveys might say.