As I've said before, Rasmussen is the pollster I look to most for Republican base mood, because of their skewed sample. And their latest poll shows Romney ahead in Iowa by 3 points over Gingrich. Romney has barely budged since the summer, but Gingrich has lost altitude very quickly. Since August, Romney has gained a statistically insignificant two points. Gingrich has gone from 5 percent to 32 percent and now back to 20. Paul is in the top three, with 18 percent, up from 10 percent a month ago. Given the difficulty of polling caucuses, I'd say all three have a shot. But the momentum is with Paul, not Gingrich.

All the other candidates have seen a mild lift since October – also largely at Gingrich's expense. Mickey Kaus's theory that everything goes faster every electoral cycle may be true again. But the attacks on Gingrich – especially from Paul's brilliant ads – seem to have taken a toll. And Republicans will surely note the following result as well:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters finds Obama earning 49% of the vote, while Gingrich receives 39% support.

And that's Rasmussen. Gingrich would mean a Goldwater-style defeat in the fall. Hence the panic in Washington.