It's almost impossible to capture the hilarity of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign, with his entire senior staff quitting, followed almost immediately by his entire Iowa staff quitting, followed by Gingrich announcing that he will begin his campaign all over again this weekend, as if the campaign to date were that season on "Dallas" that never happened:
“I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring,” Mr. Gingrich wrote. “The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles.”
It's just a flesh wound!
One lesson of Gingrich's hilarious implosion is that we need to use our heads when assessing the prospects of various presidential contenders. I've taken some unconventional positions on the odds of various candidates -- talking down favorite Mitt Romney, talking up Tim Pawlenty when he was a longshot, insisting that Michelle Bachmann could have an impact -- because I think the polls are a very limited tool at this point. Based on the polls, Newt Gingrich had a reasonably good chance to win the nomination, hovering around 10% for much of the year.
But I never took his candidacy with even the slightest bit of seriousness. His speakership was a trainwreck, with him finally being deposed by a coup after several near-coups. He has no establishment support and would make a horrible nominee, and he also has repeatedly taken positions that alienate activists. He's wildly undisciplined professionally and personally and is regarded all around as a has-been. Of course he wasn't going to win the nomination.
Candidates with high name recognition have an advantage over candidates with low name recognition -- they don't need to break into the consciousness of the electorate. But when name recognition is the only thing you have going for you, you're probably in worse shape than the polls suggest.