It’s not clear to me that the argument for dropping out is persuasive. Gingrich is still polling well in Southern states, and once we get more Republican debates, he could reassert himself again. His campaign is currently choking without media oxygen.
It’s possible Gingrich’s campaign can limp along for a few more weeks and maybe win Georgia, but I don’t see how he’s going to be able to keep the campaign going past early March. At this point, the best argument for Gingrich’s exit is an anti-Romney one. The longer Romney benefits from a more divided field, the easier it is for him to head off threats from any one candidate. That doesn’t mean that all of Gingrich’s supporters are going to rally behind Santorum. When Gingrich was calling on Santorum to drop out, pollsters found that Romney would still lead Gingrich by a substantial margin, but Santorum is probably better-positioned to benefit from Gingrich’s exit than vice versa. As FirstRead said at the time:
What’s really interesting — Santorum probably could argue that if GINGRICH weren’t in the race, he’d have a better chance against Romney. Santorum’s image is as good as it’s been since the campaign began.
The latest anti-Gingrich editorial is no more “stunning” than the earlier anti-Gingrich editorial National Review published in December. Gingrich fans could object that the December editorial was a premature rejection of one of the then-leading candidates before anyone had voted. Now that Gingrich has been tested in a number of contests and won just one of them, the earlier rejection of Gingrich seems to have been vindicated and it makes the latest call for him to quit that much more defensible. Everyone outside the Gingrich campaign understands that Gingrich had his opportunity to deal a serious blow to Romney in Florida and completely failed. He isn’t going to be the nominee, and his remaining in the race makes it that much easier for Romney to win.
If Gingrich does drop out, that would most likely put Santorum in Huckabee’s position from four years ago: no real prospect of winning the nomination, but every incentive to stay in and rack up as many delegates as possible in the meantime.