Playing Too Much to the Right, Newt Gingrich Loses the Center
Republicans are doomed to make the same mistakes the Democrats made in 2004
December 6, 2011
For Newt Gingrich to reach the White House, he must first win the nomination from Mitt Romney who has a better campaign operation and then beat Barack Obama who is a better candidate. Despite having a tough time getting above 30 percent, Romney's campaign is built to weather many storms. Having run for president before he understands the rhythm of a national campaign in a way one who has never run for president before ever could. Romney has a national network of donors and fundraisers to support a large and experienced staff. Gingrich has momentum built on personal and political appeal, which could take him far, but unless he knocks Romney out quickly, it won't take him far enough.
Republicans appear doomed to make the same mistakes Democrats made in 2004. Members of my party were so incensed by the very presence of George Bush in the White House we failed to make an effective, coherent case against his continued leadership. Every attack against President Bush was waged with the same ferocity, regardless of how trivial, which made the important attacks hard for the public to discern. While Romney is intensely focused on the economy, Gingrich plays to the anger commonly voiced on the right instead of the disappointment felt by many in the center.
Though disappointed in President Obama's ability to end our economic plight faster, voters still like him personally. While his job approval numbers have hovered around 45 percent, the president's personal favorability ratings have generally been above 50 percent. Also, according to the latest Gallup poll, Obama still enjoys a 77 percent job approval rating among Democrats. This high level of support has kept any other Democrats from running against Barack Obama in the primaries, which would be a sign of much deeper trouble. The presidents who have failed to be re-elected in modern American history have been those faced with a significant primary challenge (Johnson, Ford, Carter and George H.W. Bush).
This campaign will offer voters a choice between two candidates and they will choose the one they trust the most to make decisions for themselves and their families. Gingrich may make the true believers on the right feel better because of his ability to throw rhetorical bombs at the president, but he returns to the national stage with a complicated marital history, cantankerous personality, and seeming inability to stay on message. Candidates who take voters on the kind of political roller coaster rides Newt Gingrich is known for usually fail to get handed the national steering wheel on Election Day.