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Newt Gingrich: The most disliked politician in America

at 11:34 AM ET, 02/15/2012

Newt Gingrich hasn’t just fallen in the GOP presidential race; he may be the most unpopular person in American politics right now.

Two new polls out this week show the former House speaker with an absolutely atrocious favorability rating.
Republican presidential candidate and former House speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a campaign event Monday in South El Monte, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A CNN/Opinion Research poll on Monday showed 63 percent of All Americans viewed Gingrich unfavorably, compared to just 25 percent who saw him in a positive light.

And today, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows a similar split: 54 percent view Gingrich unfavorably, compared to 16 percent who say they feel positively predisposed towards him.

Those 38-point spreads between his favorable and unfavorable ratings are a new high for Gingrich in the 2012 campaign and tie his worst numbers from 1997, when he faced ethics troubles and a GOP revolt during his time as speaker of the House. (Fun fact: now-Sen. Al Franken joked in 1996 that Gingrich’s “favorable rating is only four points higher than the Unabomber.”)

And in fact, the numbers are worse than any national political figure The Fix could find in recent years — even, arguably, George W. Bush.

Sarah Palin, even at her most divisive, never saw her unfavorable rating rise above 60 percent in the CNN poll. And even when Republicans were demonizing Nancy Pelosi in the runup to the 2010 election, her unfavorable rating never climbed beyond the high-50s.

In fact, about the only politician who gives Gingrich a run for his money in recent years is Bush. But even when Bush’s approval rating languished in the 20s, his favorable rating — which is more of a personal measure rather than a job performance measure — stayed in the 30s.

So while Bush’s unfavorable rating may have peaked slightly higher than Gingrich’s, his favorable rating was always higher. And at Bush’s worst point, the split between his favorable and unfavorable rating was negative-36 points. For Gingrich, it’s negative-38 points.

Gingrich appears to have put together the rare combination of turning off Democrats and independents, but also being unpopular within his own party. The new CBS/NYT poll showed just 36 percent of Republicans view him favorably, compared to 29 percent who don’t.

That popularity battle has been a constant for Gingrich, and though his numbers have ebbed and flowed during the 2012 campaign, it has ruined what could have been a golden opportunity for him to challenge Mitt Romney for the nomination.

And now, it’s putting Gingrich in some very rare company of unpopular politicians.

Did we forget any other unpopular politicians that may give Gingrich a run for his money? Take to the comments section below. . .

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