The polling data I’ve seen over the past two or three days suggests that Newt Gingrich’s momentum has stopped ““ and has probably reversed itself. The most troubling numbers for Mr. Gingrich are in Iowa, where three recent polls show that his lead ““ which had been in double-digits just a week ago ““ has all but evaporated. – Nate Silver


Last night’s Iowa debate will not help Mr. Gingrich reverse his slide. But that’s not the only thing that developed over the evening. TIME magazine’s “person of the year,” the protester, even showed up.

Bret Baier showed his bias by grilling Ron Paul on Iran over and over again, then turning it over to Rick Santorum to continue, because Iran is one of his stronger issues. Paul didn’t flinch, though he won’t win any friends from this crowd, however, he did get a nod from Charles Krauthammer who said he was “wacky and occasionally very impressive.”

Chris Wallace took out after Mitt Romney, his antipathy obvious for Romney, doing his best to ruffle him, to no avail.

But it’s hard to come to any conclusion other than Newt Gingrich took what could be fatal blows at last night’s Fox News Channel debate, even considering he had some rousing applause lines, one of which was on judges. Problem is, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Alberto Gonzales slammed him on those views, which he released in a position paper.

Mukasey and Alberto Gonzales, in exclusive interviews with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, said they are particularly alarmed by provisions such as allowing Congress to subpoena judges after controversial rulings to “explain their constitutional reasoning” to the politicians who passed the laws. – EXCLUSIVE: Former Bush Attorneys General Call Gingrich Position on Courts ‘Dangerous’

After Mr. Gingrich’s devastating debate start, much of it delivered by Michele Bachmann, she came back at the end and lowered the boom on Mr. Newt’s patronizing condescension, as he questioned her on her facts. “I am a serious candidate for president,” was a freezing moment for Gingrich that reminded anyone watching about his juggling wives and horrific history with females. But her Freddie Mac attack was brutal. From CBS News:

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann blasted the former House speaker, reminding the debate audience in Sioux City, Iowa that “the speaker had his hand out” and “cashed paychecks” from Freddie Mac to the tune of at least $1.6 million.

“That’s absolutely wrong,” she said, “we can’t have as our nominee… someone who continues to stand for Freddie Mac,” which guarantees mortgages made by banks.

Bachmann clearly got under Gingrich’s skin. The former speaker said Bachmann’s claims were “factually not true,” adding that he “never lobbied in any circumstance” for the firm.

Bachmann responded that “you don’t need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to be influence peddling… to get [lawmakers] to do your bidding.”

Somewhere in smoke-filled rooms, the GOP Establishment is holding their breath and waiting for the polling after this brawl.

Rick Perry actually came to life, using the line “I hope I’m the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses,” but also delivering cogent thought. Maybe there’s a sympathy vote there or perhaps a Christian conservative hunk vote.

Rick Santorum was strong, with Mike Murphy tweeting that if he had the money he’d be in different shape in Iowa. But he doesn’t, so he isn’t.

As for Jon Huntsman, he’s reasonable and obviously smart, but his delivery doesn’t match the moment in Iowa, because he can’t deliver red meat applause lines often enough. Perhaps it will work for New Hampshire.

It depends on whether Mitt Romney rises in the eyes of Iowans, with this debate also helping him in New Hampshire. That’s not to say he’ll win Iowa, which would be a true upset. But Romney was as solid as he’s been at any time, while also delivering some red meat anti-Obama lines. His colleagues on the stage with him also let him skate, as Newt was in the bull’s eye. It was a gift for him that could help.

Conclusion is that it doesn’t seem to me that Ron Paul will rise after the debate, because he will not be able to convert enough new supporters. It will be a generous Christmas gift if Newt Gingrich doesn’t take a hit and continue to sink. The big question is will Romney’s very strong performance bolster his position in Iowa, but also in New Hampshire, maybe even make him rise a bit in the eyes of primary voters? It just might. It depends on whether his answer on gay marriage, with Santorum playing clean up, which Chris Wallace obviously served up to hurt Romney, is more important than Newt’s bad night and serial hypocrisy, or Ron Paul’s “wacky” words on Iran.