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Post Partisan
Posted at 12:43 PM ET, 01/24/2012

A ‘favorable’ view of Newt Gingrich’s national unpopularity

Everyone’s talking about how unpopular Newt Gingrich is. George Will is the latest to mention this today. And with good reason. A national Fox News poll released last week showed that the former speaker of the House has an unfavorable rating of 56 percent. As Ari Melber showed on “Now with Alex Wagner” on MSNBC yesterday, Gingrich is viewed more than twice as unfavorably as were Sen. John McCain (27  percent) and then-Sen. Barack Obama (23 points more) were near this time during the 2008 presidential contests. In short, no one’s moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with that level of popular animus.

Yet, as of this moment, momentum is building behind Mr. “I’m not a lobbyist” to win the Florida primary. Three polls were released yesterday that show Gingrich leading Mitt Romney, formerly known as “Mr. Inevitable.” The Real Clear Politics Average has Gingrich with 37.7 percent support and Romney with 30.3 percent support. And the key data point for me comes in response to question 5 in the Public Policy Polling survey.

Q5 Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Newt Gingrich?
Favorable............................................... 57%
Unfavorable ........................................... 34%
Not sure ................................................. 10%

So, while the nation really dislikes Gingrich, Republican Party faithful love him. And this is key to Newt’s resurgence, particularly in Florida. Remember, according to the NBC News-Marist poll, 70 percent of likely Florida Republican primary voters identify as conservative, and 66 percent of likely Florida Republican primary voters think Romney is moderate or liberal (read not conservative). Gingrich can only hope conservatives in the Sunshine State and in future contests do for him what South Carolina did.

That Gingrich is on a roll has the Republican establishment apoplectic. Acknowledging the pulse-racing nature of Gingrich’s candidacy in the imaginations of many conservatives, Michael Gerson writes in The Post today, “But Republicans need to imagine just a little further — electing a president with no history of prudence.” Over at the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens was grim. “A primary ballot for Mr. Gingrich is a vote for an entertaining election,” he writes, “not a Republican in the White House.”

I have no problem with that.

By  |  12:43 PM ET, 01/24/2012

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