Jonathan Martin notes a class gap:
Mitt Romney’s crowds look like something out of the president’s suite at a University of Florida football game — prosperous, trim, Tattersall-clad, and supportive but not rowdy.
Newt Gingrich supporters, with their spray-painted signs, American flag tees, flip-flops and fanny packs, more closely resemble a group that would fit in nicely playing a few bucks at the dog track.
Exit poll data and unmistakable anecdotal evidence from their events reflects an unfolding campaign in which Romney does best with voters that are a lot like him — wealthy, well-educated and lukewarm about the populist tea party movement. Gingrich is appealing most to Republicans who earn under six figures, make up the core of the middle-class and are worried about their economic prospects and furious at the establishment.
It’s the Tea Party and the cocktail party.
Many conservative writers and activists are lining up against Gingrich, as Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen report:
A top conservative media figure said the flood of attacks reflects a “Holy crap, it could happen” moment in the movement, as Republican leaders began to realize after Gingrich’s South Carolina victory that he could become the nominee, the global face and voice of their party and theology.
“It could happen, and it would be a disaster,” said the conservative, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect private conversations. “All of us who were around and saw how he operated as speaker — there’s no one who’s not appalled by the prospect of what could happen. He thinks he embodies conservatism and if he wakes up one day and has a grandiose thought, he is going to expect all of us to fall in line behind him.
At Talking Points Memo, Sahil Kapur quotes a particularly biting line:
A GOP aide piled on: “Newt’s problem is his open marriage with conservatism. He has a long history of straying from his limited government vows. He spent much of the 1990s in bed with big government Republicans and lobbyists like Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist.”