Poll: Majority of Republicans say it's time for Gingrich and Ron Paul to drop out

Jeff Greenfield (via Taegan Goddard) compares Newt to the black knight in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

‘Tis only a flesh wound:

Six out of ten Republicans say that Gingrich should drop out of the race, with 39% saying that the former House speaker should not end his bid. And 61% say Paul should drop out, with 36% saying that the longtime congressman from Texas should continue to campaign for the White House…

The poll seems to dispel the notion that if Gingrich dropped out of the race, his supporters would mostly flock to Santorum, considered the other major conservative candidate in the race. A majority of Gingrich supporters questioned say that Romney rather than Santorum is their second choice.

If you recalculate the GOP horse race using the Gingrich voters’ second choice, Romney’s lead over Santorum grows to fifteen percentage points, 45% for Romney and 30% for Santorum, compared to the ten-point margin Romney currently has in the four-man field,” says Holland.

There are four reasons I can think of for why Newt might have decided initially to stay in the race and none of them make any sense anymore. One: Simple pride. It was a lot easier to make the pride argument, though, before his cash crunch forced him to take pathetic measures like this. Two: He revels in the media coverage. But his coverage is disappearing, and increasingly what little he does get is embarrassing. When you read a Newt story nowadays, it’s usually about him visiting a zoo or, as noted, selling photos of himself with fans for 50 bucks. Three: Spite. He hates Romney and, per the boldface part above, is actually limiting his lead by sticking around. Problem is, because Santorum has failed to pull off the sort of gamechanging win that might slow Romney’s momentum, Mitt’s going to get to Tampa with a near-majority of delegates at worst and a huge lead over Team Sweater Vest. Under those circumstances, the party’s not going to deny him the nomination. Which brings us to four: Newt actually believes the nonsense he spouts about possibly becoming the consensus choice at a brokered convention. That was kinda sorta maybe possible before Super Tuesday, when it looked like he might still clean up in the south, but he can’t even beat Santorum there. Even if there was some all-out rebellion against Romney on the convention floor, they’d opt for Santorum or a dark horse over a guy with a famously poor favorable rating who’s a distant, distant third in primaries.

Long story short, I can’t explain why he’s staying in. Maybe he’s just enjoying himself, the cash crunch notwithstanding, and figures he’ll savor his last hurrah politically while it lasts. Exit quotation: “A majority of those questioned, 53%, say they the GOP nominee should be determined during the primaries, with 43% saying the nominee should be picked at the convention.”

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