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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Newt's Problems

At Politico, Jonathan Martin explains why the Gingrich surge has apparently ended:
“This has been a great example of best of Newt and worst of Newt,” said Dan Meyer, his Chief of Staff as speaker, of Gingrich’s December. “He has the vision thing and he knows how to inspire people. But he was going to be smarter than the consultants and he didn’t pay enough attention to fundraising and organization and so when he got pounded he couldn’t respond.”
Gingrich’s problems weren’t just on the airwaves here, though.
Until an Indiana-based GOP direct mail consultant, Chris Faulkner, arrived in Iowa a week ago at the behest of a political director Gingrich only hired a week before that, the candidate had nobody here running his day-to-day caucus effort.
Beyond the TV barrage and tactical missteps, though, he lost his lead for a more fundamental reason: just as Gingrich demonstrated during his speakership, the most basic ability to stay disciplined and drive a consistent message escaped him.
He offered no discernible response to an onslaught of negative ads other than to complain about the negativity and insist that he would stay positive. Then he repeatedly undermined his own attempt to stay on the high road by criticizing his GOP rivals.
Also at Politico, Vanderbilt political scientist John Geer makes smart observations:
His declining support nationally is similar to his dive in Iowa. Yet the negative ads aired only in Iowa. This raises serious doubts that they caused Gingrich’s fall from grace in the Gallup Tracking Poll.
It is possible that these ads did cause his drop in the Iowa polls. But let me offer a different explanation. The negative ads may not have been a cause of his decline in numbers but a symptom of his many problems as a candidate for president.
When Gingrich became a serious contender near the end of November, a national conversation began about the former speaker. That discussion was not kind to him.
True, Gingrich has a lot of baggage. But many voters had instead focused on his much-praised performance in the GOP debates and the favorable press he received after. There was also substantial unhappiness with the other contenders.
Once Gingrich became a credible candidate, however, the media began to scrutinize him more carefully. The resulting stories did not paint a favorable portrait. The bottom line is that Gingrich’s checkered record — not the attack ads — drove his decline in the polls.