Newt’s last stand


When Newt Gingrich told CBS Monday he planned to run a “Charlie Rose”-style campaign, he wasn’t kidding.

Unfortunately for Newt, he’s not channeling the Charlie Rose who’s a genial conduit for smart and/or famous people to talk about their ideas, accomplishments and personal history. Instead, he’s the Charlie Rose who talks too much and is largely invisible to people who don’t work in the media or politics in D.C. or New York.

Newt was the GOP front-runner for a few weeks in late November and early December, but after being targeted for weeks by attack ads, his popularity plummeted (look at the green line). Newt got clobbered by Mitt Romney and Ron Paul in Iowa last week and New Hampshire last night.  

The South Carolina primary on Saturday, January 21 (Democracy on a day most working people have off? How civilized!) could be Newt’s last stand. Newt keeps arguing that he’s a real Reagan Conservative (in South Carolina, this is a good thing) and that front-runner Romney is a moderate who supports women’s reproductive rights (in South Carolina, this is a bad thing). He’s also selling S.C. voters on the idea that Mitt is a heartless corporate pirate who made a fortune at the expense of working people.

Romney has a big lead in S.C. polls, but 10 days is a long time in politics and dog years. I have no doubt Gingrich and fellow anti-Romney Rick Santorum will be able to inflict some damage on Romney between now and the January 21. The real question is whether Newt or any of the other anti-Romneys will be able to consolidate the anti-Romney vote.

Gingrich acts like his main opponent is Romney, but in fact, if he wants to climb in the polls, he needs to re-gain most of the anti-Romney vote he lost to Rick Santorum in December. Right now, Santorum and Gingrich are in a statistical tie for second place in South Carolina with 20 percent of the vote. If Gingrich, Santorum, and Rick Perry spend the next 10 days fighting to a draw over the same voters, Gingrich is done.