The night the GOP elite said ‘enough’ to the tea party

Thoughts on tonight’s election in Florida:

– There’s no doubt but that Newt Gingrich will lose tonight. But the second biggest loser may be the tea party movement. It was in Florida that the GOP “establishment” – the definition will change according to the Republican at hand – said this far, but no further.

The crowd of old-hands that came out to endorse Mitt Romney and damn Newt Gingrich was extraordinary. John McCain, Bob Dole, Elliot Abrams – the list goes on. But perhaps even more significant is the diminution of the influence of the major voices of the tea party movement.

A snapshot of a deflated Newt Gingrich party in Orlando, by my AJC colleague Daniel Malloy

A snapshot of a deflated Newt Gingrich party in Orlando, by my AJC colleague Daniel Malloy

There is that late endorsement of favorite Herman Cain, of course. And Mark Levin. More important is the lack of punch carried by Sarah Palin, who 18 months ago could take credit for swaying gubernatorial elections, including here in Georgia. Here’s a portion of what the former governor of Alaska posted on Facebook over the weekend, urging Floridians to vote for Gingrich as a means of extending the GOP contest:

”Newt is an imperfect vessel for Tea Party support, but in South Carolina the Tea Party chose to get behind him instead of the old guard’s choice. In response, the GOP establishment voices denounced South Carolinian voters with the same vitriol we usually see from the left when they spew hatred at everyday Americans “bitterly clinging” to their faith and their Second Amendment rights.

“The Tea Party was once again told to sit down and shut up and listen to the “wisdom” of their betters. We were reminded of the litany of Tea Party endorsed candidates in 2010 who didn’t win. Well, here’s a little newsflash to the establishment: without the Tea Party there would have been no historic 2010 victory at all.

But an unending contest isn’t in the rest of a party that faces a President Barack Obama who remains potent despite a struggling economy. The “GOP establishment” indeed learned its lesson in South Carolina. It increased its effort by four or five-fold. Maybe more.

Exit poll data is limited (all will be cut loose at 8 p.m. EST) but one figure out that’s important: 45 percent of those voting said “electability” was the most important quality they were looking for in a candidate.

Another important number for the night: White evangelicals went for Newt Gingrich, according to exit polls, but only by 39 percent to 36 percent.

Gingrich’s real problem in Florida: Women preferred the once-married Romney by 51 percent to the thrice-married Gingrich, at 29 percent.

The first, best exit-poll summary comes from the New York Times. Check it out here. One of Gingrich’s bright spots: He had the support of 43 percent of those who identified themselves as “very conservative.”

Reposted from earlier today: Juiced by super PACs, this year’s presidential contest has seen a 1600 percent increase in interest-group sponsored TV ads over 2008, according to a study by the Wesleyan Media Project of Middleton, Conn.

Consider the following:

Even though Romney has not been on the airwaves as much as he was in 2008, his campaign and its allies have dominated the airwaves in Florida, airing almost 13,000 ads on broadcast television across the state, as of Wednesday, the 25th…[Newt] Gingrich and his interest-group allies have aired only about 200 spots, with [Ron]Paul and [Rick] Santorum out of the broadcast television game.

That’s a 65:1 ratio. Twenty percent might be pretty good for Gingrich tonight.

In the morning, these are the Florida counties that I’ll be looking at: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsen, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, and Wakulla. They make up the greatest part of the Florida Panhandle, which demographically is more like Georgia than any other part of the Sunshine state. If Mitt Romney posts extraordinarily big numbers in these counties, he’ll have an incentive to bring a large effort to Georgia on Super Tuesday. The last thing that Gingrich wants to do is spend a large part of his treasure in a state that should be a freebie, based on his long tenure here as a member of Congress.

Right now, Escambia County, the western-most in Florida, is edging toward Romney.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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100 comments Add your comment

sheepdawg

January 31st, 2012
7:46 pm

good riddence to any and all tea party whiners, take your guns and to back to the ranch, spew your idiotic hatred to your dog

Look before I leap...

January 31st, 2012
7:48 pm

The Tea Party needs to tread very carefully.

Moderates and independents tend to be driven away from versus being attracted to any particular ideology.

phildo

January 31st, 2012
7:59 pm

I am as consevative as anyone. Newt is a liar who has taken both sides of nearly every issue. I would never vote for him.

Mr. Ected

January 31st, 2012
7:59 pm

Methinks its too early to read last rites to the Tea Party. They will not be silenced, even if the full faith and credit of the United States of America hangs in the balance. If they are willing to defile the USA in order to get their way RIGHT NOW, they will have no remorse in systematically disintegrating the Republican Party in the weeks to come.

President Obama thanks you kindly.

Look before I leap...

January 31st, 2012
8:02 pm

Just cracks me up that the news organizations just announced Romney’s win in FL as if it was actually breaking news.

Instead of the graphics banners reading “Breaking News”, they should have said “Well, duh!”

Mr. Peanut

January 31st, 2012
8:04 pm

For once we elites finally caught up and agreed with the majority of Americans: the mal-named Tea Party is over and gone… defeated not by liberal Democrats, but by the same monied interests in the Republican party that shamelessly rode their frustration to victory in 2010. News Flash: the upcoming Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, wouldn’t let the average Tea Partier caddy for him.

Eli

January 31st, 2012
8:07 pm

So long as hate and ignorance have a place in America so, too, does the Tea Party.

I hope this election season is taken as a “mandate” that America is too important to be run by a bunch of naive passive observers of the political process…and calling them passive observers is generous considering the source of the tea party and right-wing America’s information.

Centrist

January 31st, 2012
8:07 pm

Total leftist blogger B.S. The TEA Party will strongly unite behind Romney as they long ago rejected Obama.

Centrist

January 31st, 2012
8:11 pm

This is why the TEA Party will get behind Romney (even if they wished they could push him more to the right):

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rpzGOo_EPjE/TyhKEZ9unqI/AAAAAAAABYU/czoGwtnVrnY/s1600/id.bmp

George Hills

January 31st, 2012
8:12 pm

Mr. Gingrich stabbed gun owners in the back by cutting a deal with anti-gun Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to pass the Misdemeanor Gun Ban in 2006. Nobody likes a rat gnawing at their right to keep & bear arms.

Look before I leap...

January 31st, 2012
8:15 pm

The exits on the white evangelicals is interesting.
Seems like the Christians will support a serial cheater, Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic as opposed to a monogamous, family man who is a Mormon.

In other words, its all about talk the talk and we don’t care how you walk with the evangelicals.

JAWJA

January 31st, 2012
8:21 pm

Newt might have fared better if he’d left his baggage(calista) at home. Republicans can tolerate lying, cheating,stealing and bribery. But putting her up front and in the faces was too much.

Newt

January 31st, 2012
8:33 pm

Romney is just a white Obama.

JOD

January 31st, 2012
8:35 pm

Romney = Obama Part 2… Nuff said why real conservatives wont support Romney. He also is like flip flop Kerry.

Look before I leap...

January 31st, 2012
8:40 pm

Good speech by Romney, took the high road and kept focused on Obama.
Smart move.

Let’s see if Gingrich is a smart as he thinks he is.

Grapedrankisha

January 31st, 2012
8:54 pm

Newt is conducting himself like an idiot, even tea party true believers won’t want to hitch their wagons to his star. Gotta wonder, e.g., how many of them support his 25-year illegal alien safe haven gimmick.

DawgDad

January 31st, 2012
9:06 pm

OK, I’m a Tea Party type, if not an activist. I don’t think there’s a single preceding post on this blog I agree with; most of you are liberal/leftists (opposed) and the rest of you appear to have no clue about what the Tea Party is all about or what makes it click.

Checking the news today, California is going to be out of cash in early March, way ahead of forecast. Remember, it’s the whining, ignorant, hating, ideologue Tea Party types who warned you, and could have saved you, and ultimately will bail out your sorry …

catlady

January 31st, 2012
9:11 pm

Look: He isn’t.

Centrist

January 31st, 2012
9:21 pm

@ DawgDad – as you know, this is a liberal blog, written by a liberal reporter, on the liberal AJC website, mostly read by liberals. The fact of the matter is that the TEA Party is popular with the American voters as evidenced by the last election which swept out the tax, spend, increase debt Democratic Party majority from the U.S. House.

Look before I leap...

January 31st, 2012
9:23 pm

Typical classless Newt:
No congratulations to the FL primary winner, never even mentioned Romney by name.
And of course he started of by whining about the “elite media” whatever the hell that means.

People power?

Talked about how NEWT single-handily saved the GOP.

Mentioned Obama by name, just a few times.
Play less golf and no singing? Really? Those are his issues?
He wants to rule by fiat as opposed to actually govern by spending day 1 issuing executive orders.

Went for the anti-establishment mantle….. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Stick a fork in him, he is done.

Don't Tread

January 31st, 2012
9:24 pm

So long as hate, ignorance, and criminal behavior have a place in America so, too, does OWS. FYT

Colonel Klink

January 31st, 2012
9:29 pm

Oh goody…..four more years of Obama destroying America!!!

yuzeyurbrane

January 31st, 2012
9:32 pm

This is not the end of the Tea Party. It is not even the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning. Alright, I know it’s almost totally plagiarized from Churchill. The point is, as much as I wish it represented the rejection of those right-wing nuts by the Republican rank and file, I don’t delude myself by thinking that is so. Mainly because a majority of those Republican rank and file nationally are Tea Partiers or fellow travelers. I think it will take a crushing defeat this Fall on multiple levels for the Republican Party to finally come to its senses and purge the rabble it has attracted.

Look before I leap...

January 31st, 2012
9:35 pm

@Centrist

“The fact of the matter is that the TEA Party is popular with the American voters as evidenced by the last election”

Perhaps the election results in a non Presidential election cycle bear out your claim but more recent polling shows that those who support the the Tea party range from about 16% to just over 30% and the direction has been downward since middle of the year.

The 2012 election will be about national issues that need broad-based support with moderates and independents and the Tea Party just does not resonate with this demographic.

Jack

January 31st, 2012
9:39 pm

I am a life long Republican who is proud to be called an “elite”, “establishment” or anything else Gingrich wants to call me. Tonight real republicans stood up and took back our party! I understand that my wing of the party cannot win in November without Gingrich’s wing but make no mistake about it – Real Republicans again call the shots within the party.

Bootnewt

January 31st, 2012
9:41 pm

Newtie looked a might bit discomforted tonight. A big dose of castor oil for him will keep him running!

JOD

January 31st, 2012
10:02 pm

The establishment will be in for a real surprise if Romney (Obama Part Deux) wins the nomination. No more will we have these John McCain/Mitt Romney/John Dole Types. RINO’s, all of them.

romney way

January 31st, 2012
10:07 pm

Congrats to Mitt! Newt, Georgia might not be so easy for you now! I for one am glad Romney won and Newt will never get my Ga. vote.

Going Right

January 31st, 2012
10:18 pm

To those of you who decry the Tea Party, would you please take a moment and spell out exactly what it is you don’t like about them? What, specifically, have they done to incur the wrath of you socialists? Is it because they didn’t riot, break windows, clash with police, hold up signs with the filthiest language known to man (and I’m a former Marine), defecate on police cars? Screams, hollering, urinating on the streets, robbing, stealing and I could go on ad nauseum. Yes, what is it they have done? Is it a crime to want smaller government? Is it criminal to want to stop the incessant spending and try to get our Republic out of the red? Is it for constitutional government that they are vilified?
Just give me and the hand full of clear thinkers on this blog just a few of their real (or perceived) sin. Could be they actually aren’t lapdogs that toe the Socialist Democratic line. Is it because they dress neatly, actually bathe, comb their hair, deport themselves in a courteous manner?
For every “sin” they have committed in your eyes, I can name double that amount in the Socialist Democratic demonstrations – and I won’t even begin to add the silly shenanigans of the punks and thugs of the Union Movement!

jconservative

January 31st, 2012
10:19 pm

46 more states in which Newt can have book signings.

BEND OVER, HERE COMES THE CHANGE

January 31st, 2012
10:34 pm

Elite? I am for Romney and consider myself leaning more towards the Tea Party. But, three wives does NOT make you a conservative…..

End of the Klanbaggers? | Plutocrap

January 31st, 2012
10:35 pm

[...] think that this AJC op/ed is premature, but I think that the end of the Klanbaggers is inevitable. Maybe not this election [...]

globeflyer

January 31st, 2012
10:41 pm

I find it incredible how the whole Tea Party stance has been hijacked by, there’s no other way to say it, Liberals. The Tea Party was founded on the idea that fiscal responsibility, within the confines of the Constitution, is paramount. Nothing said about abortion, gay marriage, etc., etc..So, by the process of elimination, if one says they are “against” the Tea Party, then they are saying that a balanced budget is not necessary, and the Constitution is just a list of suggestions…amazing. Sad, but amazing.

Ant

January 31st, 2012
10:43 pm

@ Going Right-you just made the case for the Tea Party as to why people don’t like them.Any one that disagrees with them-they resort to name calling , generalizations about themselves and others.
We’re all for smaller govt. and less spending in words,but if that were to happen-what would our country really look like? Saying that the private sector would fill the gap is wishful thinking.

Ol' Timer

January 31st, 2012
10:44 pm

The spin ol’ Newt put on this buttkicking spawned two tornadoes in the Orlando area.

He’ll hang around for a few more elections but could very well explode as he gets all worked up over the fact that the people have had time to give his campaign a look and are fearful of the man. And, they have every right to be fearful of Newt with the code to the black box and the military at his disposal.

Tea Party disunity hurts Newt Gingrich -…

January 31st, 2012
10:44 pm

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

honested

January 31st, 2012
10:56 pm

Is this honesty or simple self preservation for the gop.

I have never voted for them, so I can’t say.

Going Right

January 31st, 2012
10:56 pm

Ant@10.43; I asked for SPECIFICS. What name-calling (e.g., names); what generalizations? No Ant, you socialists want to tax the rich to make sure they “pay their fair share”…what, by the way IS their fair share? All they earn? 80? 50%? How much?
You state, “We’re all for smaller government and less spending…” What political party are you referring to? The Socialist Democrats? You gotta be kidding, ol’ arachnid!
Whoa! I just remembered what the Socialists really want in “smaller” government: the same or MORE employees but shorter in height and less obese. As for less spending, I refer to Taxing the Rich to fill and replace (and increase) the hole left by “less spending. Less Solyndras, fewer shrimp on treadmills, 16 dollar muffins and so forth. Yeah, I now get the idea.

honested

January 31st, 2012
10:57 pm

Ol Timer,

He must have run out of non-reading voters.

honested

January 31st, 2012
10:57 pm

Going Wrong,

Could you tone down the whining to a whimper.

Adults are talking.

honested

January 31st, 2012
10:59 pm

A philosophical question.

When in history has the much vaunted but essentially imaginary ‘private sector’ stepped forward and solved any problems before mass social unrest stepped forward and provided a solution first?

Look before I leap...

January 31st, 2012
11:00 pm

Herman Cain needs to go back and re-take Civics 101.
He needs to learn the difference between an electoral vote and a primary delegate vote.

double

January 31st, 2012
11:01 pm

Newt says stay the course.Not worry about the mule just load wagon.Don.t need no corporate raiders.Fox going right over to guard the hen house.You would think your student would stay the course,not veer right.

honested

January 31st, 2012
11:03 pm

Noots will stay on until the ‘convention’. (Has there ever been a ‘campaign’ run on a blackberry using twitter against a real campaign).

There is only one answer, step up or step out of the way.

Obama, 2012!

honested

January 31st, 2012
11:05 pm

Where is that TinyDog.

I would have thought this was the time for mindless yapping.

Mike Hannigan

January 31st, 2012
11:05 pm

Someone mentioned Solyndra? See this:

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/01/19/bankrupt-solyndra-caught-destroying-brand-new-parts/

Is this what one of you want when you say you want smaller govt?

honested

January 31st, 2012
11:11 pm

Solyndra

A REAL company with REAL products that our grandchildren will take for granted as always having been available.

Of course, first outfits like the Southern Company will have to be stripped of their overseer status.

honested

January 31st, 2012
11:13 pm

Going Wrong

Did you go to bed?

Going Right

January 31st, 2012
11:26 pm

Oh my Lord, the proud socialist has returned to take his place among the brain-dead on this blog. Yes, daddy, I will stop whining when you do your hourly “swap.” Of course you know what that means don’t you? Clue” It involves body orifices, (e.g., mouth, A—–) and two thumbs.” Every hour you swap orifices with the thumb and, Oh, I shouldn’t have to go any further, you know the drill (and pardon the pun).
MAN! Is it ever great to be a “one-per center?” Worked 40 years in my own business and became one overnight when I sold it. I know I should be ashamed! My final employee count was 163 when I signed the papers. I’m going to hang my head in shame! I paid 33.6% FEDERAL INCOME Tax my last year BEFORE I sold the business. I’m going to hang my head in shame. 39 of my employees (ex-employees, that is) have stock and they are (I believe by now) millionaires. I should hang my head in shame. I’m not helping out and doing my part, you know, like paying MORE taxes than the IRS said I should. I should hang my head in shame. No off-shore accounts, a modest home, no flashy cars, no debt. 831 credit score after 40 long years…I WILL HANG MY HEAD IN SHAME. Why the very nerve of me wanting to actually keep some of the money that gave me total gray hair at 33 years of age, having 4 kids go through college and missing three of the graduations. If only I had sense enough when I was young and before I became educated, I could have joined the Democratic Party and sat back on my ass and let my nanny state take care of me. Jeez, what a dummy I’ve been all these years. Why, I could have been a 61-year old hippie and have joined one the Occupy movements. What a dummy. What a dummy indeed.

honested

January 31st, 2012
11:28 pm

Going Wrong,

Dude, there are diagnoses for your problem and you can get help if you will just ask.