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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Falling Between Two Stools

I made a case yesterday as to why Newt Gingrich could conceivably make himself attractive to dominant conservative elites and actual voters, if he ever gets his act together to launch a presidential campaign.
But Nate Silver offers a pretty good argument that Gingrich is neither popular enough among hard-core conservatives to lift himself from the field among activists, nor with enough of the public at large to make him attractive on electibility grounds:
As compared to Huckabee, Palin and Romney, the other potential ’12ers polled most often:

[A]mong Republican voters, Mr. Gingrich has the lowest favorable rating of the brand-name candidates, and the highest unfavorable one….
Last month, Gallup detailed primary preferences among 21 different demographic categories of Republican voters; Mr. Gingrich ranked no higher than third among any of them.

Things don’t look better for Newt among the general electorate; they actually look worse:

Based on a simple average of all polls since Nov. 1, Mr. Gingrich’s numbers with the general population are 32 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable. Those numbers are somewhat worse than when we checked in on Mr. Gingrich a year ago, when they were 35 percent favorable, 38 percent unfavorable.
They’re also not appreciably better than those of the supposedly unelectable Sarah Palin; Mr. Gingrich is perhaps one gaffe away from joining her on the other side of the 50 percent unfavorable mark.

So Gingrich is falling between the two stools of base appeal and electibility.
Now Gingrich’s standing is, like any candidate’s, dependent on the shape of the field, and as much trouble as he is having launching a campaign, he’s a lot closer than most of his potential rivals. But to become viable, he’s going to have to come up with a rationale for his nomination that’s more compelling than his apparent belief he’s some sort of Churchillian world-historical figure destined to lead the Republic in troubled times.

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