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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Time to Factor Out Newt from Dem Strategy?

The GOP presidential primary season’s surprises notwithstanding, Romney’s Florida win makes a compelling case that Newt is basically done. Ed Kilgore’s persuasive analysis below leaves little room for Gingrich’s resurgence and makes it clear that he has two shots, long and none.
It would take a spectacular Romney gaffe to put Gingrich back in serious play, and yes, he’s had a couple of dillies. Romney is a twitchy candidate, prone to excessive jabber. No doubt his smarter handlers will cut back on live interviews as much as possible going forward. But for gaffe potential, he will never match Gingrich. Santorum has to be thinking they could both tank in a mutual gaffe frenzy.
In addition to Kilgore’s points, I would add that Newt’s gender gap vs. Romney — 24 points in the largest of swing states, ices Romney’s cake. Has there ever been a larger gender gap in a mega-state presidential primary? And it’s not like Romney has anything to offer women in terms of policy. It’s about how many women perceive Newt’s character, or rather lack of it.
Under normal circumstances, a candidate with Gingrich’s vote totals in SC and FL would be considered a leading contender in the veepstakes, at least. But team Romney could not be blamed for thinking that would be a little like putting Caligula on the ticket, or a very loose canon on deck. Certainly it would be doubling down on gaffe potential. File that one under ‘not gonna happen.’
Democrats can’t be blamed for cherishing the lurid fantasy of a Gingrich nomination, with it’s potential for lengthening Obama’s coattails far beyond what Romney’s nomination could do. In terms of planning the Obama campaign ahead, however, it looks like time to bet all resources on a contest with Romney, who will be hard enough to beat without distractions, as William Galston has argued.
Yes, Dems should keep rooting for Newt’s success in the primaries and caucuses ahead on grounds that he will further divide the GOP and taint the entire party with escalating nastiness. But Democratic time, energy and money should now be invested in preparing to beat Romney, Dems’ central challenge for 2012.

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