Can Newt win the nomination, beat Obama?

UPDATE at 4:40 p.m.: A couple of hours ahead of schedule, he’s in.

ORIGINAL POST:

Tonight, Newt Gingrich will announce he’s definitely running for president. At least, that’s what he appeared to announce Monday. And, really, everyone has considered him a part of the race for months now.

Opinion polls are rating him third or, more commonly, lower among what pretty much everyone agrees is shaping up as a lackluster GOP field. The last time he rated in the top two, according to the aggregation at Real Clear Politics, was in November. And that was a bit of an outlier, given that no pollster besides that one (Public Policy Polling) has found Gingrich higher than third. The RCP average of seven recent polls shows Gingrich fifth, a fraction of a percentage point ahead of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

And yet…

Gingrich will surely soon rise above Donald Trump, who’s been running ahead of him for the past few weeks. Two of the others ahead of him on average, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, might not end up running for the office. Gingrich has been doubling the usual score of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, seemingly everyone’s pick for the not-Mitt Romney pick of the GOP establishment. And it is, of course, very early in the race.

I hear from a lot of people who say they don’t think Gingrich will get the nomination, and that they themselves won’t support him in the primary — but, on the other hand, he’s the one they’d most like to see debate Obama face to face. Which is pretty curious. It makes me think that they think Gingrich’s personality and intellect would match up well with Obama’s on a stage.

One commonality of the past five presidential elections is that the more appealing personality, between the Democratic and Republican nominees, has emerged as the winner each time. (The candidate with active-duty, regular military experience has also lost each of the past five elections, but that strikes me as less likely to have been a conscious decision by voters — and, anyway, this year is likely to be the first time in a while that neither major-party nominee has military experience, which is also curious given that we’re in the middle of two wars and a kinetic military activity in Libya. But I digress.)

I doubt many independent voters would admit to pulling the lever based on personality — persona might be a better word — in the race. But, given the great importance we all assign to the independent vote, it does make me wonder.

So, two questions for y’all. First, ye independents among us: How much does personality/persona matter? (Remember, most of you are anonymous here…you can answer truthfully.) And second: Since Gingrich is today’s story, am I right that people see him, from a personality/persona/intellect standpoint, being a threat to Obama?

Bonus question: If not Newt’s personality, among the announced or potential GOP candidates, whose?

– By Kyle Wingfield

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106 comments Add your comment

carlosgvv

May 11th, 2011
11:33 am

At this time it’s an open question. Newt is a very smart man and very well educated. However, like most candidates, he has baggage. And, for some reason, he prompts many people to say he’s either the best or the worst.

Junior Samples

May 11th, 2011
11:49 am

Cam Newton has less baggage.

DW

May 11th, 2011
11:54 am

Personality and persona matter some, but I value competence, as well. Newt is only a threat intellectually to Obama. His personality, persona, and baggage are huge turn-offs and will cost him the nomination.

Junior Samples

May 11th, 2011
11:57 am

And Cam is accostomed to “lobbyists”, perfect fit.

Kyle Wingfield

May 11th, 2011
11:57 am

Junior: You can’t spell Newton without Newt? (Sorry.)

Junior Samples

May 11th, 2011
11:59 am

intentionally misspelled for added humor

griftdrift

May 11th, 2011
12:01 pm

Independent checking in.

Persona matters. Practicality matters as a real world extension of the persona. Most indenpendents will put aside the nuances of ideology if they think someone is effective.

A real world example – the Heathcare bill. During the endless struggle, filled with all kinds of byzantine maneuvers, Obama’s numbers among independents fell. Once it was done they began to rise again. To me this is evidence of a trait unique to the non-partisan. They may not agree with your proposal, but if your going to do it, do it quickly, do it effectively and move on to things we really care about. We’ll judge you later on the outcome of proposal.

Now where does Newt fit into this and why do I think that he doesn’t pose an existential threat to Obama?

People keep building up this persona of Newt as the nebbish professor who can stand toe to toe with Obama on intellectual ground. There’s some truth to that. But what it belies is what Newt has done for the past 15 years. And that’s mostly go on talk shows and repeat the same bromides over and over and over again. Before that? He was a largely failed Speaker of the House? Before that? He was a firebrand backbencher and that’s where he saw his greatest success (i.e. 1994 elections)

As we’ve seen over and over again, firebrands work well in certain situations, but a presidential debate is not one of them. Eventually, indedepents tire and grow numb after hearing the same old same old over and over again.

They want to hear what you have done and why. And Newt ain’t got much of that.

The only advantage I would give him is this – for independents who are truly at odds with Obama, they need somewhere to go. They will never opt for crazy (they’d sit it out instead). And right now Newt is the least crazy.

Junior Samples

May 11th, 2011
12:02 pm

Newton/Newt 2012
or
Newt/Newton 2012

Philosopher

May 11th, 2011
12:05 pm

It’ll be interesting to watch the religious right explain to us how a man with Newt’s moral “baggage” is now suitable to lead us. Newt must think some of us have really short memories. I don’t care how well he can speak…I remember! It will be a real shame if the Republicans cannot soon find an intelligent, ethical, articulate, thoughtful, candidate to replace the present contenders, but maybe the Independents will surprise us…

David Granger

May 11th, 2011
12:11 pm

Newt’s a good idea man, and a good fund raiser…but has too much baggage. He might can get the nomination, but he can’t win a general election.

Mike Franklin

May 11th, 2011
12:12 pm

I don’t like Newt mainly because right after 9.11, he openly called for Americans to give up their liberties in order to be safe from terrorism. I thought this was a horrible idea coming from someone who was supposed to be conservative. Just because he is a leftover from the Reagan/Bush-1 era doesn’t give him a free ticket to popularity.

I think this man represents all the wrong things and all the wrong directions for the GOP and our nation as a whole to espouse. I am deeply troubled by his reemergence into the political scene after being sent packing once already.

Bart Abel

May 11th, 2011
12:19 pm

I also want to digress to say that some people’s obsession with military service as a qualification for the presidency is worse than useless. In some cases, focusing on this issue might actually be backwards.

The founders established civilian leadership over the military for a reason. Many would argue that civilian control is a necessary pre-requisite for a stable democracy.

In addition, several presidents without military experience have performed very well as commander-in-chief. Woodrow Wilson and FDR come to mind. In different times, Bill Clinton (Balkans) and Barak Obama (Somali pirates, OBL) also come to mind. At the same time, Jimmy Carter (Navy) and George W. Bush (National Guard) had less than stellar results in that particular role.

John McCain is famous for his courage as a P.O.W. He deserves all the kudos he as ever received for his sacrifice. But, by no means, does that experience qualify him for the presidency. If we’re going to look at his military record, then we should also balanced McCain’s sacrifice against the fact that he was a horrible student at his military academy and a horrible pilot who crashed four or five planes. More recently, notwithstanding the media’s odd love affair with the man, McCain continues to make bellicose statements about foreign policy that ring more of jingoism and less of intellect.

The point isn’t to beat up McCain, but to argue that the obsession with military service, or lack thereof, as a qualification or disqualification for president is without merit. Experience doesn’t back up that argument, and there are numerous ways that an individual can serve his community, state, and country without serving in the military.

old timer

May 11th, 2011
12:21 pm

Newt probably cannot win….He is smart and be a good debater. He just is unlikable. And I know that should not be real important, but it is. I think someone new….Pawlenty, is appealing.

carlosgvv

May 11th, 2011
12:29 pm

Philosopher

There are some intelligent, ethical, articulate and thoughtful Men and Women in our Country who would make excellent candidates. Unfortunately, our election process demands you sell yourself to Big Business and the Unions and endure having yourself and your family dragged thru the mud. Because of this, only the toughest, meanest and coarsest wind up running for office.

retiredds

May 11th, 2011
12:30 pm

I would love to see a debate between Obama and Newt (I refer to him as the great bloviator). Contrary to some I think Obama can go toe-to-toe with Newt. If you consider their academic credentials Newt has nothing on Obama. I would especially like to see them debate Constitutional law.

Lil' Barry Bailout

May 11th, 2011
12:45 pm

Opinion polls are rating him third or, more commonly, lower among what pretty much everyone agrees is shaping up as a lackluster GOP field.
——–

Kyle, I’m very disappointed to see you buying into the Democrat/media spin. Thought you were smarter than that.

Do tell us who you would get excited about who isn’t already in or is considering getting in.

Lil' Barry Bailout

May 11th, 2011
12:47 pm

Better yet, tell us who you think could join the GOP field and have the media and conservatives lavishing praise upon.

hsn

May 11th, 2011
12:50 pm

Come on, Kyle! Newt? Even GOP leaders are apprehensive of his nomination (even if he actually stood a chance). The social conservatives in the South WILL NEVER nominate him… He has been the canary in the mine shaft for the repubs.

Newt has soo many skeletons in hiding that even he is afraid to open his own closet. His wide, loud mouth on Fox, saying anything to get him in the spotlight won’t help him either. His chickens are flying all over in proximity…and he must know they are ready to come home to roost!

Nominate Gingrinch, and Obama will have a field (election) day in Nov. 2012. Obama wouldn’t even have to campaign to win!

Zen

May 11th, 2011
12:50 pm

I would love to see a republican candidate that can unseat Obama, but the pickings this time around are so pitifully bad that it’ll be 4 more years of disappointment.

retiredds

May 11th, 2011
12:57 pm

If one votes for Gingrich this is what you are voting for:

“Newt Gingrich, just to pick a paragon of bad judgment out of the hat, is a college term paper on how a résumé does not make a leader. Gingrich, who is officially, formally, finally, and forever announcing that he is sort of, kind of, maybe, oh-what-hell-why-not running for president on Wednesday, had an interesting take on the airstrikes in Libya.

First, he criticized President Obama for not imposing a no-fly zone. Then he hit him for imposing a no-fly zone. In two weeks’ time, he went from saying he would intervene “this evening” to saying, “I would not have intervened.”

Just before the worst oil spill in history, he started a campaign to unfetter the oil industry, with the slogan, “Drill here, drill now.”

For historical perspective, Gingrich said President Obama and the Democrats pose “as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.” This was in one of his books, a product of deliberative phrasing, not some word spasm for the birther set. Imagine that temperament in the Situation Room.” (”More Than a Résumé” By TIMOTHY EGAN,May 9, 2011)

Wow, what a stand up guy.

Logical Dude

May 11th, 2011
12:59 pm

Kyle: “I hear from a lot of people who say ” ” It makes me think that they think ”

Come on, Kyle, what do YOU think?

“First, ye independents among us: How much does personality/persona matter?”
It’s important, of course. But it’s not the end-all be-all of what it is to BE president.

“And second: Since Gingrich is today’s story, am I right that people see him, from a personality/persona/intellect standpoint, being a threat to Obama?”
Nope, you’re wrong.

But then, what DO you think yourself? Not what you think OTHER people think?

Logical Dude

May 11th, 2011
1:00 pm

. . . and my “{Nope, you’re wrong” was meant to be snarky, not that you are actually wrong. :)

Jefferson

May 11th, 2011
1:00 pm

You can’t trust this guy. If he will cheat on his wife he is a liar and has no integrity.

jconservative

May 11th, 2011
1:00 pm

This “independent” is always on the lookout for a “conservative” to vote for as president. My first vote was in 1960, two liberals. Since then the Republicans have run two conservatives, Goldwater who lost and Reagan who became a Liberal the moment he was sworn in as president.
The United States is a liberal nation and apparently will always have a liberal president.

The problem of US voters is they want no one in the White House who might be a threat to their “entitlements”.

The voters feel “entitled” to low taxes and high government services.
The voters feel entitled to the strongest military on the planet but choose not to pay for it.

We the voters are entitled to have our cake and eat it too.

So we nominate and elect liberals as president.

I hope your day sucks, mine will!

Lil' Barry Bailout

May 11th, 2011
1:00 pm

retiredds, howsabout we revisit your Idiot Messiah’s various statements on, just for starters, Gitmo and the Bush tax cuts?

emo

May 11th, 2011
1:12 pm

“Idiot Messiah”? Bush?

jose

May 11th, 2011
1:20 pm

no way, jose.

jose

May 11th, 2011
1:22 pm

idiot messiah? jesus is dumb? i disagree.

Left wing management

May 11th, 2011
1:23 pm

jconservative: “Goldwater who lost and Reagan who became a Liberal the moment he was sworn in as president. The United States is a liberal nation and apparently will always have a liberal president.”

Um, the nation was after all founded on the liberal principles of Enlightenment rationalism, so that does sort of figure, doesn’t it?

You also write: The problem of US voters is they want no one in the White House who might be a threat to their “entitlements”.

Yeah, like a few big oil companies I can think of, for example, who for sure don’t want to part with their “entitlements” (as discussed on Bookman’s blog this morning).

Left wing management

May 11th, 2011
1:24 pm

idiot messiah? jesus is dumb? i disagree.

We talking about Reagan again today. Yawn. C’mon folks, let’s move on. That messiah ain’t comin back – and he wasn’t much of a messiah to begin with. He was a false messiah, in other words.

Lil' Barry Bailout

May 11th, 2011
1:42 pm

Um, the nation was after all founded on the liberal principles of Enlightenment rationalism, so that does sort of figure, doesn’t it?
———-

Those would be paleo-liberal principles, from back when liberals believed in things like liberty, not like today’s liberal fascists who think it’s OK to require people to purchase certain products, or tell businesspeople where they may and may not build factories.

Idiot Messiah: Liberal fascist.

retiredds

May 11th, 2011
1:44 pm

lil barry, what’s that have to do with Obama and Newt debating? I have never thought or spoken of Obama as a Messiah. That is reserved for only one person and I hope you know who that might be. (hint, hint, he lived on this earth for 30 years about 2011 years ago.) If you nave nothing to offer in the way of constructive commentary …. well I can’t be of assistance to you. Have a good day, son.

James k

May 11th, 2011
1:47 pm

Trump said he would put a tariff on Chinese goods, I’d vote for him for that reason alone. I think Trump would also prosecute and jail the TBTF institutions that are committing fraud in real estate mortgages and securities.

Newt is a windbag, who only desires the limelight so that he might bask in it. Ask his ex-wife about his “family values” . I’d pretty much vote for anybody but Obama, but I might have to hold my nose and vote for the hopium king for a 2nd term before I’d vote for Gingrich. The man is basically scum that says the right things to a certain sector of voters.

I don’t mean to disparage Newt Gingrich, but it is difficult to discuss him without using euphemisms not used in polite society or mixed company. Gingrich makes Obama look honest.

reebok

May 11th, 2011
1:58 pm

Calling the current GOP field ‘lackluster’ is INCREDIBLY generous. Somebody is going to have to take the nomination and get cruhed in the general election, a la Bob Dole in 1996. It may as well be Newt.

reebok

May 11th, 2011
2:00 pm

Should say ‘crushed,’ not ‘cruhed.’ Blogs need spellcheck to protect me from myself.

that's goofy

May 11th, 2011
2:07 pm

Newt will not win the GOP – he has a lot of baggage with the marriage issues. He also comes off too smart – not that being smart is bad. Intelligence is critical – however, the GOP seems to believe they want an “everyman” as President not somebody with intellect.

Obama either. 2012 looks like 1996.

jose

May 11th, 2011
2:21 pm

jose no understand idiot messiah label. why call the son of God dumb?

Jack

May 11th, 2011
2:36 pm

I do vote. I can’t express an opinion unless I vote. So, on the GOP ticket I prefer Newt over Huckabee or Romney. And I will vote GOP regardless of the candidate. We have to get Obama out of the White House.

Linda

May 11th, 2011
2:39 pm

James k@1:47, You mentioned fraud in real estate mortgages & securities. Have you read any of the reports from the Financial Inquiry Commission? They could not agree. The Democrats’ report is about 600 pages of nothing new. Wallison’s is one page. The other 3 Republicans, one of which is the former CBO, is 13 pages.

http://keithhennessey.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Financial-Crisis-Primer.pdf

Their report is what I personally witnessed & experienced & what I have been discussing. It was the intervention of the fed. govt. in the housing market to achieve the agenda of affordable housing/social justice & the fuse was lit in 1992. It was totally avoidable & stupid. (Get a tissue.)

Ragnar Danneskjöld

May 11th, 2011
2:47 pm

My first choice remains Herman Cain. I would vote for Newt, but then I would vote for anyone to the right of Hugo Chavez. While that excludes our current president, it would include almost any other sentient being.

Obama is Wrong

May 11th, 2011
3:20 pm

I’ve met Newt on a few occasions and am very impressed with his intellect. The man is a master at thinking 3 or 4 moves ahead of anyone. However, my biggest problem with Newt is his tendancy to want to saddle up to the left on certain issues (e.g., global warming). Also, as others have pointed out, how can you trust a man who cheated on his wife? And, how can you call a man principled who changes his religious affiliation because of his wife (that seemed so shallow to convert to Catholicism just for her)? No, Newt has too many negatives for me to support him. I could only vote for Newt over Romney or Huntsman. Right now, Michelle Bachman has my vote with Herman Cain a close second if Michelle falters.

I’m hoping the GOP will get behind someone like Michelle Bachman who has spunk and is not part of the “good ole boy” network like Newt and Romney. We need someone other than last election’s retread. Michelle Bachman seem to have spunk, doesn’t have baggage, and is truly likeable. The GOP needs a Bachman/Cain ticket to go against Obama.

BULLSEYE

May 11th, 2011
3:21 pm

Not sure if Newt can be partisan enough to run the country effectively . We need someone who can shut down the government.

retired early

May 11th, 2011
3:23 pm

The GOP is stuck with electing someone who is a “Christian Conservative”…it is their largest special interest group. How does Newt “fit in” with those anti abortion folks. I could see a very unmotivated GOP voter, with him on the ticket. Romney SHOULD be the one but his Healthcare Bill is just too much to overcome. I think most serious candidates view Obama as unbeatable…and are looking past 2012 to make a move.

Lil' Barry Bailout

May 11th, 2011
3:28 pm

Who are these “serious candidates”, retired early?

barking frog

May 11th, 2011
4:07 pm

An on the knees prayer meeting ala ex governor frank clement of tennessee will
fully rehabilitate newt with the religious right…..then who knows???

Linda

May 11th, 2011
4:10 pm

Ragnar@2:27, You are the smartest blogger on here today! What taste!

Linda

May 11th, 2011
4:12 pm

Obama is Wrong@3:20, …& you are a close second.

Linda

May 11th, 2011
4:13 pm

Wonder who the Democrats will vote for if Hillary runs.

retired early

May 11th, 2011
4:13 pm

Bailout

Jeb Bush….

Bart Abel

May 11th, 2011
4:25 pm

Each time serial-adulterer Newt Gingrich mentions “our Creator” to impress an audience (he does it a lot), he takes the Lord’s name in vain.