Sabato Warns of Electoral 'Newt-Mare'

Warning confirms establishment GOP fears of losing women, independents

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Newt Gingrich's nomination as the GOP presidential candidate would not only lock in an Obama victory in November, but would also keep the Senate in Democratic hands and make Nancy Pelosi speaker again, according to elections predictor Larry Sabato's UVa Crystal Ball team.

Simply put, says Sabato, it would be a "Newt-Mare."

Looking at the Electoral College map and recent state polls, the Crystal Ball team found that Mitt Romney would keep Republican states red and would help turn some purple states red, making it possible for the former Massachusetts governor to eke out a slim victory over President Obama. [Poll: Is Newt Gingrich Right About Going to the Moon?]

"Romney's the closest thing out there to a generic Republican available. He is not going to steal the presidency away from the incumbent if Obama's having a good year and the economy is solid. Rather, if the country is ready to make a change, then Romney would be a credible alternative," says Sabato.

A Gingrich nomination, however, would be "a nightmare for Republicans" by turning many purple states blue and giving Obama a starting point of 303 Electoral Votes, 33 more than needed. [Read: Gingrich's Janitor Comment Should Help Obama.]

Gingrich insiders scoff at the claim, calling it mainstream conventional thinking that does not take into account how he is tapping into the Tea Party anger at the GOP establishment and the president. They also note new polling that shows GOP voters believing that he is more of a fighter who will challenge the president on key issues.

But Sabato's new maps back up whisperings in Washington GOP circles that his nomination would have the Republicans surrendering control of the House and giving up a chance at the Senate.

Key findings:

Romney, says Sabato, would keep states won by Sen. John McCain in 2008 and add some toss ups, like New Hampshire. Plus he could take five states Obama won: Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana and Florida. Add New Hamshire, he said, "and Romney is president."

Gingrich, says Sabato, would have trouble winning those states and he would do bad in states with large Hispanic populations out west like Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Gingrich associates, however, argue that he has good relations with the Hispanic community and they point to several meetings he's held in the community.

Gingrich might have problems with independents and women, the result being that he would have no electoral coattails in states like Missouri and Virginia where Senate elections are dead even and in others were Republican House members are treading just above 50 percent in polls. Several House and Senate GOP leadership aides have repeated those concerns in conversations with Whispers.

As with any prediction so far out from the November election, Sabato notes that anything can happen. And he highlights one of the problems Romney has with the public and in polls: GOP voters still want somebody who will bash and bloody Obama and "Mitt Romney is not that candidate.

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