Well, now that we’re getting closer to the actual votes being cast more pundits and polls are making more noise about specific candidates, trying to predict exactly the way in which the chips are going to fall. On one level, this seems kind of pointless; we’ll know precisely how the chips fall when they do, and that is going to start happening in only a month.
On the other hand, it is always fun to get your bets out early – and publicly – so you will be on record if you turn out to have been right. Over at The Plum Line, Jonathan Bernstein has an article up titled “Forget Newt’s Surge, Romney is Still the Favorite.” Bernstein’s argument essentially boils down to the fact Romney’s unfavorables – in a poll commissioned by the Post – are low enough that they don’t support a “stop Romney” movement, which he argues make the presumptive front-runner the front-runner still.
I don’t quite understand this reasoning. Maybe Romney doesn’t inspire such revulsion among Republican voters that they will all decide to actively vote against him, but that same poll shows Romney’s favorables are fairly low as well. They don’t have to vote against Romney so long as there is someone else in the race they’d rather vote for. And that person certainly looks to be New Gingrich right now.
A new Gallup poll finds that only Romney and Gingrich are viewed as “acceptable” candidates by a majority of Republican voters . . . but Gingrich is far more acceptable, crushing Romney 62% to 54%.
But the real good news for Newt comes in Gallup’s break down of its respondents (Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents) according to whether they identify themselves as “Conservative,” “Moderate/Liberal” (there are such creatures among the GOP?), a “Tea Part Supporter,” and “Not a Tea Party Supporter”:
(Click to enbiggen.)
Among the party’s base – Conservatives and Tea Party Supporters – Gingrich once again crushes Romney: 68-55, and 82-58. Conversely, Romney edges past Gingrich with the Moderate/Liberal Voters and those who do not support the Tea Party, but only just barely, by 3 points and 4 points, respectively.
This goes to the heart of what I wrote last week, when I predicted Newt would end up the Republican nominee: Gingrich appeals to both the Crazies and the Orderlies in the Republican Party, and that gives him a both (i) a wider universe of possible voters than Romney could ever hope for, and (ii) a greater depth of commitment from those voters (because it’s the Crazies that are the committed) than Romney can hope to achieve.