By better than 2 to 1, Americans have a negative impression of the consulting work Newt Gingrich has done since leaving office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The former House speaker’s opponents for the Republican nomination have used his work advising companies with an interest in federal policy-making as a cudgel, and the line of attack resonates. Fully 54 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of his post-congressional activity, more than double the 24 percent holding favorable views.

Views of Gingrich’s work are more negative than those of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s work buying and restructuring companies before he entered politics. Americans are more evenly split on his time at Bain Capital: 35 percent express favorable opinions, and 40 percent negative ones.

For both Romney and Gingrich, there’s a lot of open terrain: 25 percent express no opinion about Romney’s Bain experience, and a similar percentage (22 percent) say “don’t know” when asked about Gingrich’s work after leaving Congress.

And the two GOP candidates have made some progress shoring up the base on these points. The number of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents seeing Gingrich’s private-sector work as a good thing has jumped 15 percentage points since before the South Carolina primary. Similarly, positive ratings of Romney’s work ticked higher over the same period. The bulk of these changes stem from shifting views among Republican men.

But both still have a long way to go with the public generally.

Among political independents, 51 percent hold negative views of Gingrich’s advisory work, with 25 percent positive. There’s a more even split on Romney’s Bain Capital work: 36 to 37 percent.

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