Hmmmm, I didn’t want to write this article.
I honestly thought Newt Gingrich’s run for the Republican nomination was more a matter of his inflated ego than anything else – foolishly believing that conservative “value” voters wouldn’t look twice at this guy.
But, Republican voters are proving to be a fickle bunch this electoral season – falling into shallow infatuation with the candidate of the week.
The polling for the official eight GOP candidates for POTUS looks similar to an EKG chart. Currently, there are four candidates that are waiting for their bump. Rick Santorum (google him
), John Huntsman (who?
), and Ron Paul (Ross Perot without the charts
) all appear to have a tough time cracking double digits in the polls. Paul, depending on the poll, cracks 10% on occasion. Huntsman’s brightest day was in late September when a Fox poll found 4% of people knew who he was. Santorum averages less than 2% in the polls. And since hitting her highwater mark of 19% back in June, Michelle Bachmann has steadily settled into single digits averaging a solid 3.6%.
Republicans like crazy, but they aren’t necessarily wedded to it. They’ve flirted with each of these candidates, taken them out for ice cream, held hands and found these four just aren’t going to do it for them.
Now there are four actual contenders – and for a couple of these, the bloom is off the rose already even though the numbers haven’t caught up yet. Despite continuing to claim double digits, Rick Perry’s days as a serious candidate are over. His awful debate performances coupled with his drunken speech in New Hampshire have effectively killed his campaign. In the abstract, the governor of Texas – guns, cowboy boots, cowboy hat and all – Rick had all the makings of a GOP messiah, especially after his Pray for Rain event in Houston burnished his Christ-like cred. Alas, conservative love for Rick was fleeting. After holding a 19 point lead in the polls at the end of August, Perry looks to join Bachmann, Santorum, et al., in the single digit category.
Herman 9-9-9 Cain – maybe if his plan was 11-11-11 (I digress)…Herman’s last best day was around Halloween when a Quinnipiac poll found him being loved by 30% of the Republican base and leading the pack by seven points. Then allegations of sexual harassment surfaced. Oddly enough, and to the surprise of pundits everywhere, Cain continued to surge in popularity amid these allegations. However, once people looked closer at Herman and how he dealt with the media and questions on the issue, Republicans have since begun shying away from Herman. Recent polling has seen him cede almost half his base, although on average, 20% of voters still think he’s their man. He looks to hang around at least through the early primaries.
Then there is poor Mitt Romney. By Republican rules, Mitt is the guy! He’s been there! He was essentially the runner-up in the primaries in 2008 to John McCain. Mitt knows this is how it’s supposed to work! The second place guy in the last election gets to wear the mantle in the next election. Mitt consistently appeals to a strong 25% of the Republican base. His numbers don’t vary much, but he has a tough time getting over the 30% mark. Republican voters know he’ll eventually be the guy they’ll settle for, but before taking vows, they want to play the field, maybe sow some wild oats before tying the knot.
Mitt has to be frustrated – each week he watches as his fiancé is out dancing with someone else. He can’t help but wonder if his gal is looking around so hard because of his religious beliefs. Maybe if he was Jewish instead of Mormon she’d bring him home to meet mom.
Which brings us to the latest flirtation – good old Newt. Newt’s been left for dead in the polls on a couple occasions. Back in August he was garnering a healthy 2%. His stock rose to 10% in September only to fall back to 3% in October. Now we are in November, and Newt’s time is now. As Cain’s popularity began to fade, Newt’s started to rise and he’s basically in a dead heat with Herman at 20%.
The question I have is why the renewed infatuation with Newt? It’s not like you haven’t dated him before. He’s the guy you hung out with back in high school. Don’t you remember the 90’s? He was there – contracting with America, playing blink with the budget with Clinton back in 1995. Resigning as Speaker of the House and his Congressional seat in 1998 over ethics violations.
Newt is widely viewed as a conservative intellectual, always touting the free market although he’s never actually worked in the free market (Newt was a college professor paid by the state of Georgia prior to being elected to the House in 1978). These are two strikes Newt has against him for real conservatives – he’s made his living on the government dole with little to no business acumen and he’s considered an intellectual! Worse, he considers himself an intellectual!
But the third strike against him – the one that makes people like me wonder why you find him more attractive than, say, Rick Santorum – the dude can’t keep it in his pants! I mean, here’s the guy that wants to lead the party of family values and morality and he’s on his 3rd marriage – the previous two ending with him cheating. The first one ending with him serving his wife divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer.
When asked about his infidelities and how he intends to address the issue for conservative voters Newt pithily responded:
“I’ll bet almost everybody here can gather the thrust of your question,” he said. “I appreciate the delicacy and generosity in the way it was framed…. I hope you feel better about yourself…I’ve had a life which, on occasion, has had problems…I believe in a forgiving God, and the American people will have to decide whether that’s their primary concern. If the primary concern of the American people is my past, my candidacy would be irrelevant. If the primary concern of the American people is the future… that’s a debate I’ll be happy to have with your candidate or any other candidate if I decide to run.” Source
While I admit that I’m a little dismayed that you felt you had to look Newt over again, I’m sure this will only be the latest infatuation before relegating him back to single digits in the polls. Given the flirtatious nature of the GOP voter, it can’t be long before Rick Santorum gets his own bump. I just can’t help but wonder, when that day comes, if Mitt just doesn’t tell you to take a hike – he’s heading home!