Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich is emerging as the clear Republican frontrunner for the 2012 presidential elections, several polls have revealed.
Gingrich leads by a wide margin in Iowa, the first state to vote on January 3, and South Carolina, the first state to vote in the South.
In Florida, the biggest January prize, one recent poll puts him ahead by a runaway margin. In the key primary that follows Iowa, New Hampshire, the former House speaker is lodged in second place.
The Gingrich momentum is captured in national polls as well. He topped the latest national polls taken in late November - and that was before Herman Cain, much of whose support appears to be migrating toward Gingrich, dropped out of the race.
According to Gallup's most recent polls, Gingrich rates well ahead of Romney in terms of "positive intensity" of support, and more Republicans view him as an acceptable nominee than Romney.
There's still plenty of time for the Gingrich bandwagon to go off the rails. But the flood of new polling since the weekend reveals that at the moment, he occupies the commanding heights in almost all the early states that traditionally serve as yardsticks.
Three new polls place Gingrich squarely atop the field in Iowa.
An ABC/Washington Post poll of likely caucus-goers released Tuesday shows Gingrich with 33 percent, up 15 points over Romney - who tied for second with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
An automated Public Policy Polling survey of likely caucus-goers posted Monday night found Romney had slipped to third with 16 percent, 11 points behind Gingrich and just behind Paul.
In South Carolina, where the state of the race has been fluid, Gingrich leads Romney by 38 percent to 22 percent according to a poll released Tuesday by Winthrop University. Rick Perry, the Texas governor thought to have strong appeal in the South, finished a distant third, with 9 percent. The survey included Cain - who pulled 7 percent. (ANI)