Gingrich may also gain ground because of his unplanned statement to the The United West, which asked him if he’d investigate Muslim Brotherhood fronts in the U.S. like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, and the North American Islamic Trust. Gingrich answered: “Yes, absolutely!” Herman Cain, on the other hand, went to a top Muslim Brotherhood mosque when he sought to make up for his comments about communities banning mosques. Since then, Cain has told The United West that he’d prosecute the Brotherhood fronts and designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. National security is not a major issue this campaign, but winning the anti-Islamist vote may still result in a noticeable uptick in support.

Gingrich’s climb to third place in the polls and strong debate performances don’t make him a first-tier candidate, but for the first time, victory at least seems possible. He could linger in the second tier and prosper as others drop out. Perry’s support will fall as he’s attacked on all sides, and if it drops far enough, attention will turn back to Romney. Bachmann will probably drop out after Iowa if she loses, as will Rick Santorum. After the New Hampshire primary, Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson will probably exit. These last three candidates have very little support, but they still take up time on stage at the debates, and that is where Gingrich shines and has an opportunity to make his case without buying expensive advertising.

This doesn’t mean that it is likely Gingrich will win, or that there aren’t serious obstacles. Romney or Perry could have unstoppable momentum because of victories in the pre-Georgia contests. Gingrich also has to convince the media and Republicans, including less attentive voters that are unaware of his strengthening position in the polls, that his candidacy is viable. People simply don’t want to volunteer for or donate to a campaign that has little hope of succeeding. And then there are the questions about his electability. Debate performances can stir confidence that he can take on Obama, but it will be hard for voters to get past the earlier implosion of his campaign. Republicans can’t afford to have that happen with their nominee.

As those competing for the right-of-Romney vote make bringing Perry down their first order of business, one of the second-tier candidates could break through. And of those candidates, Gingrich is the one on a positive trajectory. Don’t count him out.

Also read Victor Davis Hanson: “The Coming Post-Obama Renaissance