Newt Gingrich may be rising in the pitched battle for the Republican presidential nomination, but negative views of the former House speaker have crept higher among all Americans, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Nearly half the country now holds unfavorable impressions of Gingrich, up six points from only two weeks ago, when he was surging to the front of the GOP contest. But the small movement isn’t likely to bring an early end to his candidacy: the biggest jumps away from Gingrich have been among Democrats, liberals and non-whites, the least apt to participate in Republican primaries.
Among Republicans, 60 percent view the former speaker favorably, with 28 percent holding unfavorable views. And Gingrich has been rated far worse: his unfavorable ratings among all Americans peaked at 59 percent in the spring of 1997, and were similarly high in November of the following year, when he resigned from the House.
In a separate poll released Tuesday by the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center, reactions to Gingrich are measured in a more colorful way: as one-word descriptions. Some of the most commonly mentioned words include “intelligent,” “smart” and “knowledgeable.” But the single most mentioned word is simply “no.”
Overall, more than twice as many people offer a negative word for Gingrich as a positive one (28 to 12 percent), although most offer a neutral word or none at all. Just about as many people say he is an “idiot,” a “crook “or a “liar” as say he is “good,” “experienced” or “likable.”
Gingrich’s chief rival -- Mitt Romney -- elicits less emotional one-word responses. The most commonly mentioned about the former Massachusetts governor is “Mormon,” with other top descriptors including “good,” “OK,” “religion” and “business.” But Romney has his hiccups too with a fair chunk saying “no” or “flip flop.”