Thursday, February 9, 2012

Newt, To Date

Ignoring the beauty contest in Missouri and taking the ballot vote in the caucus states (which he'll probably underperform in delegate selection, given that he's the least organized of the candidates), here's how Newt Gingrich has done so far by order of finish:

4th, 4th, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 3rd

That's just better than a fringe candidate. I mean, Ron Paul has a couple of second place and a couple of third place finishes, plus at least a plausible case that his delegate totals might be better than his caucus straw poll numbers; Newt can't even get on the ballots or file full delegate slates everywhere.

He could surge again. It doesn't matter. He's not going to be the nominee, he's highly unlikely to be a major factor, and I'm not really convinced he deserves more TV time right now than Ron Paul.


  1. By way of comparison, here's Santorum's record (not including MO):

    1st, 4th, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 1st, 1st

    Looks better than Newt's, certainly. Can you expand a little bit on why you don't consider Santorum a "plausible" nominee?

    I get the fact that party actors didn't jump on his bandwagon after IA... but he didn't "win" IA until a couple of weeks after the fact! It would have seemed odd for party actors to rush to endorse Santorum after a second-place finish, right?

    In any case, I think you've got to consider the possibility that the race has changed - specifically, Romney is a totally different candidate now than he was in, say, December. He is toxic among independents now. That totally negates Mitt's biggest (and only) strength in the eyes of party actors - electability.

    I know you think the only way Romney loses this is by some major external event shaking up the race. But what if that is already happening in slow motion (in the form of Adelson's super PAC assault and Mitt's own blunders) and we just haven't realized it yet?

    1. >That totally negates Mitt's biggest (and only) strength in the eyes of party actors - electability.

      No it doesn't, unless they somehow decide his rivals are more electable than he is. They almost certainly do not think that about Gingrich, and probably not about Santorum either.

    2. Implicit in my post was this: after the last several weeks, it's not at all clear that Romney is more electable than Santorum.

      Sure, Santorum will frighten away lots of moderates and independents. But he also stands to gain a bunch of white evangelical voters that would stay at home if Mitt is the nominee.

      Yes, Santorum was obliterated in 2006, a Dem wave election. But he also has been elected to public office more times than Romney (or Obama, for that matter).

      So I don't think it's obvious at all, at this point, that Romney is the most electable candidate in the eyes of GOP party actors.

    3. It's feasible that none of them is electable.

      (One can hope, at least.)

  2. Except Newt is a past Speaker of the House. And right up until Summer 2011, or arguably even November 2011, he was treated with considerable respect as a leader and grandee of the GOP. Why let the broader GOP/conservative public sphere off the hook, by letting them abruptly disown Newt, even though they had for a long time been quite welcoming to him for over a decade?

    1. He was considered a talking head rent-a-pundit. It should be reiterated that speakers of the house don't go on to become presidents. Back-bench congressmen don't either, but you're talking about shades of irrelevance on the presidential stage.

    2. I disagree with both PF and Anon. @Anon, I think Gingrich has a big enough personality and political footprint to run and even win, unlike your usual backbencher.

      @PF, Newt might have been treated with respect, but everyone knew his sordid history. It was sitting there for any of this fellow GOPers to use against him, but they had no reason to until now. I don't know why Gingrich thought he was immune to his own past, except that he is highly prone to grandiose thinking, especially about himself.

    3. One other comment. If you discount Newt's only win, his record looks poor. I think it's reasonable to discount the S. Carolina win, which Gingrich pulled out with a good debate performance in front of a responsive crowd in a particularly sympathetic state. I don't think circumstances will align that well for Gingrich again.


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