Cliché watch: Back in August, Michael Crowley at Time wondered how Newt Gingrich could make the argument he was headed for success in the polls even as he came in fourth in a straw poll in his home state of Georgia. Crowley's name for the phenomenon: "Newtmentum!" This month, with the continued implosion of other non-Romney candidates, reporters almost jokingly suggested this would be Gingrich's moment in the spotlight, but to demonstrate their skepticism of their own suggestion, they referred to it as the theory of "Newtmentum," a phenomenon distinctly separate from actual momentum. Hot Air sounded out the typical "Newtmentum" skepticism, writing, "Even Gingrich, for all the Newtmentum hype recently, is still crawling along at nine or 10 percent." And yet, Gingrich supporters, too, cling to the term as a battle cry for their arguments that their man might have his day in the sun yet.
Where it's from: The meme of merging the word "momentum" with candidate names comes from Joe Lieberman during his own 2004 campaign for president. Denying rumors he planned to drop out of the Democratic primary, Lieberman reassured reporters he had "Joementum." But when he subsequently showed no signs of actual momentum, reporters adopted "Joementum" to mean exactly the opposite. ("Alas, Joeverconfidence felled him," wrote Slate's William Saletan.) The pun had some linguistic integrity back then. Joe rhymes with "mo" after all. But reporters have since attached any old candidate name to the suffix "-mentum" to denote an implausible presidential campaign which few think has a chance of success. There was Mittmentum (though mostly in 2008 when he lacked regular, old momentum), and this season, we've seen Bachmentum and Cainmentum, too.