The basic story of the campaign season, if you've been absorbing the most conventional accounts from the most conventional media, is that Mitt Romney established himself early on as the candidate to beat. One by one, the other candidates have, in rapid succession, risen to the challenge but failed to surmount it. In that storyline, we've gone from Michele Bachmann to Rick Perry to Herman Cain to -- now -- Newt Gingrich. And the movement up and down for these various candidates has been chiefly the result of the sorts of crash-and-burn errors that the media dearly loves to report on, from Bachmann's HPV debacle to Perry's brain freezes to Cain's alleged sexual harassment of his subordinates.
Now, the media waits in wonder for the story to repeat itself with Gingrich. Sure enough, the first sign of his presumed decline came yesterday when Reuters reported that a University of Iowa poll suggested that Newt's "support could be slipping." It wasn't the most convincing poll in the world, for a variety of reasons related to timing and sample size that are too complicated to expound upon at length, but it nevertheless shot around the world on social media, as the political press geared up for another turn at the flame-out feeding frenzy. And as luck would have it, Public Policy Polling came out today with another set of numbers that suggested the same thing.