Has Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign come to an effective end almost as soon as it started? According to a new poll from PPP, a Democratic polling firm, Gingrich’s approval ratings among Republicans has gone underwater at 38/45, and in general at 19/64. The pollster calls the campaign rollout “a total disaster” (via Taegan Goddard):
Voters nationally are evenly divided on Barack Obama’s job performance at 48% approving and 48% disapproving. Despite the mixed feelings toward him he leads Mitt Romney by 7 at 49-42, Newt Gingrich by 14 at 51-37, and Sarah Palin by 17 at 54-37 in hypothetical match ups. That’s because even if voters are ambivalent about him, they don’t like the Republican alternatives. Romney’s favorability is 35/48, Palin’s is 30/63, and Gingrich’s is a remarkably bad 19/64.
All of these numbers are pretty much par for the course in our national Presidential polling this year except for one thing: Gingrich has completely tanked with Republican voters, providing real confirmation that his campaign rollout has been a total disaster. Only 38% of GOP voters have a favorable opinion of him and there are now more, at 45%, with an unfavorable one. I doubt anyone has ever been nominated for President who ever had negative favorability numbers within their own party less than a year out from the primary season.
How seriously should we take this? PPP identifies as a Democratic Party pollster, but they usually do better than, say, some of the media polls. Their sampling is certainly better, with a D/R/I of 39/35/25. (Is that damning with faint praise? Probably.) On the other hand, it’s really difficult to take a poll seriously with this as its objective:
That’s the serious stuff and we did a national President poll two weeks ago and we’ll do another one in two weeks. The real reason we did this extra one is to figure out how big of a political game changer the rapture would be.
Er … okay. And what did they find? Only 2% thought the Rapture would arrive as predicted on Saturday, which looks like about 1.75% too many, and only 11% believe it will happen in their lifetimes. Despite the obviously fringe nature of the belief, PPP still gives six lengthy paragraphs of analysis of the Rapture on the presidential race. What’s next — UFOs? Flat Earthers? The Illuminati?
Undoubtedly Gingrich did some real damage to himself the past eleven days, thanks to his ill-considered words about Paul Ryan’s plan. He handed Democrats a rhetorical bat that they have swung ever since and put the House GOP on the defensive; he may have undermined any serious attempt at entitlement reform for the next two budget cycles. What did voters think about that? Oh, sorry, PPP was too busy polling about whether Sarah Palin and Barack Obama would be Raptured (35% and 44% say yes, respectively).
Besides, those numbers don’t look terribly reliable. Gingrich only has a 19% favorable rating and still scores 37% against Barack Obama? Palin outscores him among all voters on favorability (30% to 19%) but they end up with the same percentage head-to-head against Obama? Looks like common sense may have gotten raptured up at PPP.
Equally silly is the tempest in a Tiffany’s teapot, which the Today show beat into the ground (via Greg Hengler):
I’m totally mystified, too. The Gingriches spend their own money, pay their bills, and somehow this is suddenly a bad thing. Fiscal conservatism doesn’t mean you don’t have a credit card or spend your own money; it means you oppose other people spending your money and the federal government acting like it has a revolving charge at Beijing’s. If I had millions of dollars, I might be tempted to buy my wife a $45,000 necklace, too, and open up an interest-free account at Tiffany’s. If Gingrich had declared bankruptcy or refused to pay the bill, that would be relevant, but he hasn’t.
There are substantive reasons to oppose Gingrich, but this isn’t one of them.