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Poll: What does Newt Gingrich need to do to stay in the race?

Newt Gingrich bus
I've already expressed my hope that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich stay in the GOP presidential race to the (presumably bitter) end. And Gingrich has said repeatedly that he has no plans to drop out before the Republican convention in August.

But of course he would say that. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy to suggest to voters that you're poised to drop out -- it discourages your supporters from making the trip to the voting booth. And besides, he's still polling pretty well in Alabama and Mississippi, which are holding primaries Tuesday night (Hawaii Republicans are holding a caucus).

But Gingrich's standing hasn't seemed to improve nationally in weeks, and at least some conservatives who are his target audience seem to be making peace with the idea of (shudder!) Mitt Romney as their nominee. Others are rallying behind rival Rick Santorum, who's more socially conservative than Gingrich but less of a Big Ideas Guy (which may be a good thing in their book).

So the conventional wisdom bubbling up before Tuesday's primaries is that this is a make-or-break evening for Gingrich. If he can't beat Romney in the conservative Deep South, which is effectively his home turf, he'll be forced to admit that there's no point in going on.

That's the theory, at least. Even if he doesn't win, Gingrich may cling to the hope that Romney won't get a majority of the delegates before the convention, setting the stage for an anything-goes scenario in which the best debater in the group has a fighting chance to win.

But what do you think? Is there a threshold Gingrich needs to pass Tuesday night? Take our scandalously unscientific poll, leave a comment or both!

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-- Jon Healey

Credit: David Goldman / Associated Press

 

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