There was lively debate among readers as to whether Newt Gingrich would survive media scrutiny and his opponents’ attacks.

Those arguing he will make it through the vetting process include Siarra who wrote: “Newt will not only survive, he will most likely win. Republicans learned from the last election not to let the media influence our decisions ever again. Reagan was blasted by the media saying he had no chance to win also.” Djah predicted that “he will escape the effects of the scrutiny until it is too late because Republicans are so desperate for the anti-Romney and they have run through all the other options. So they will settle for Newt and then find someone to blame for the ensuing fiasco. Probably the mainstream media.”

Dos1 had this extensive analysis, predicting that “the media scrutiny and attack ads on Gingrich will have surprisingly little effect”:

Reasons are given in ascending order of importance:

1) Despite the strong debate performance by the second tier, the dynamics of the race did not change because of the debate – and this debate was among the best chances to get Newt. . . .

2) In past debates, Gingrich has proved an effective salesman for Gingrich. He now has a core group that is emotionally attached to Gingrich. Once this happens it is hard to get people to shift positions. . . .

3) Gingrich is a Clinton like figure. Both politicians are excellent retail salesmen and both are strongest in adversity, but unfocused (or worse) in triumph. . . .

4) Most of the negative information is already priced into Gingrich. Everybody knows that Gingrich is a used car. Listing his dings and dents really doesn’t really add new information. . . . Also like [ Herman] Cain, Gingrich benefits from the Sarah Palin effect. Republicans believe (with some justification) that their candidates are victims of a double standard. This means that many Republicans will discount all attacks by establishment type figures regardless of the merits.

5) The more Gingrich is attacked the more all the oxygen in the race will be focused on the colorful Mr. Gingrich. In other words Gingrich gets to play Bachmann to Romney’s Tim Pawlenty. . . .

However, most of those who responded either predict or hope for Gingrich’s political demise. DrPepper2 writes:

Gingrich should take Iowa, but at what price? The long knives are being sharpened already. His peer enemies list is long; House members old and new remember him as the Leader that was censured and asked to leave the House of Representatives. Most of the public has forgotten all about what happened 15 or so years ago. But soon, everyone will be made aware of Gingrich’s snarky comments and snake oily exposition.

I am firmly convinced that Gingrich’s run attempt is a good thing for the GOP; it is a clarifying catalyst. His attempt to storm the citadel, and subsequent failure, will show that more moderate Republicanism is the stuff of “real” candidates to both Red and Blue voters.

Baldinho contends: “All his opponents have to do is allow him to go around and be interviewed with a lot of leeway for off the cuff speaking. His ‘invented’ comment about the Palestinians is a perfect example. That stuff you can’t make up. It’ll help him with the worst of the worst in his party but absolutely kill him with the other 90% of America.”

Given how quickly this race has turned, predictions are the equivalent of fool’s gold. One thing is certain: The longer the race remains fluid and contentious the more opportunities there are for Gingrich to slip up. And frankly, rival candidates have every reason to hang in there for a while. (Tim Pawlenty could have been the consensus candidate had he not made the Ames straw poll the end-all-and-be-all of his candidacy.) In this race, cataclysmic reversals of fortune seem to be the norm. And, yes, it’s possible there is no decisive winner (as in 1976), and we could head into a convention with the outcome still not clear. Now, that would be a political junkie’s dream come true.