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Newt Gingrich and the GOP Nomination Nightmare


Newt and the GOP Nightmare

What do Freddie Krueger and Newt Gingrich have in common?Newt Gingrich photo: AP

Well, they both keep coming back from the dead. Plus, Freddie Krueger was a horrible nightmare for all those living on Elm Street.

Unless the GOP voters wake up pretty soon, a Gingrich GOP nomination will become an equally horrible nightmare for the GOP faithful—a virtual guarantee that Barack Obama will be re-elected to a second term.

This nightmare is close to becoming reality. Gingrich absolutely crushed Mitt Romney in the South Carolina GOP presidential primary—40% to 28 %, and he's in a position to win Florida, too. His most significant breakthrough was that he won big among Palmetto State Republicans whose top priority is to beat President Obama.

Republican voters are certainly happy with the fire that Gingrich is providing, as the one common thread that GOP voters share this cycle is a desire to see President Obama run out of office. But if that is their goal, then Newt’s most recent surge doesn’t make much political sense.

Sure, some of the GOP faithful love Newt’s tenacity in the debates, but this won’t help in a general election because there are not that many Republicans in the country. According to a recent poll, less than 35% of registered voters are Republicans. This important because most non-Republicans simply don’t like Newt.  Gingrich’s favorability among general election voters — the metric that many pollsters argue is the key to understanding how the public feels about a candidate — is very low. Examine the chart below:

Photo: AP

America has known Gingrich for three decades — and really doesn't like him. He looked disingenuous for leading the impeachment charge against Bill Clinton when Newt was having his own extra-marital affair. Most Americans blamed Newt, and not Clinton, for the federal government shutdown in 1995.

Any more recently, his global warming commercial with Nancy Pelosi his reference to Paul Ryan’s entitlement reform plan as “social engineering” shows that he shoots off his mouth without thinking.

His sci-fi obsession with space is more at home at a Star Trek convention rather than a political contest.

Plus, Newt does alarmingly stupid things, like forcing his entire campaign staff to walk out on him last summer and  buying his third wife,  Calsita, more jewelry than Cleopatra.

I know 7th graders that have better impulse control than Newt Gingrich.

Too many Republicans are being wooed by his debate performances, which mostly consist of throwing red meat to a conservative crowd, like bashing the mainstream media.

Gingrich brilliantly turned a major negative into a positive during the last debate in South Carolina when he dismissed an explosive interview given by his ex-wife and accused the mainstream media of shielding President Obama.  Gingrich turned the question around on moderator John King, blaming the mainstream media for detracting from the issues and earning a standing ovation from the audience.

Gingrich has won support from Republican audiences by being openly skeptical of the media. In that debate, he triumphed as he said, "I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking the public."

Constantly attacking the mainstream media may win over conservatives, but this rhetoric does not appeal to moderates, and based on the results of last night’s debate, this tactic may be already wearing thin.

Even a conservative partisan like Anne Coulter understands that Newt Gingrich alienates most voters, especially the independent ones that are needed to win in 2012.

Data seems to support Coulter. Polls consistently show Mitt Romney and even Ron Paul doing much better than Gingrich against President Barack Obama.

Yes, Gingrich could be a real force for a campaign but he is never going to be President. He is too polarizing. He is too widely disliked.

And if GOP voters don’t wake up to this reality soon and if they actually give Newt the nomination, they will be in store for a truly dreadful nightmare in November—four more years of President Barack Obama.

Contact Erik Uliasz at euliasz@philly2philly.com

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Photo Credit: AP