The rise of Newt Gingrich presents a real problem for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential run as does Herman Cain.
Ology.com's Noah Rothman says Romney has a very clear path to the nomination, which includes a decent showing in Iowa and a win in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. But, that may be a razor thin margin of error. Especially if Gingrich or Cain come in a strong second in New Hampshire, which would leave them in good position to win South Carolina.
If this happens, it could very well be the beginning of the end of the Romney campaign. The momentum would be solidly on the side of his strongest opposition. Florida is already predisposed to voting against Romney, his support there has waned in recent months and Cain took the lead away from the former Massachusetts Governor in the last two polls of the Sunshine state (with Gingrich on the rise).
February’s contests, with primaries in Michigan and Arizona and caucuses in Nevada, Maine, Minnesota and Colorado, cannot be relied on to be solidly pro-Romney if he consistently underperforms in January. Michigan, where the Romney’s have familial roots, is likely fall in his camp no matter his performance in the early states, but the caucuses and the Arizona primary (a state with strong ties to the Tea Party) are not going to be friendly territory for the Republican establishment candidate.
It is unclear how the former Massachusetts governor could perform on March 6 group of primaries and caucuses. What is clear is that whoever the anti-Romney candidate is at this time would have the wind at their back.