Republicans still see the 1994 revolutionary who challenged the previous Democratic president. They watch Gingrich ripping into Obama as a believer in “Saul Alinsky radicalism” or urging Republican candidates to “repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama.” Gingrich rises the more he appears to be the anti-Obama rather than the anti-Romney.
But conservatives’ coolness towards Romney should not be mistaken for opposition. Two-thirds of Republicans and right-leaning independents have a favorable view of Romney, roughly equivalent to Gingrich, according to Gallup polling. Conservatives currently have a more passionately favorable view of Gingrich. But for Republicans, it’s still a choice between candidates who are hardly steadfast conservatives. And with no strong GOP candidate, conservatives will inevitably rely on Obama to stir them.
That opposition awaits any Republican. Only one in 10 Republicans approves of Obama’s presidency, by Gallup’s measure. In October, the Pew Research Center found that about a quarter of voters “very strongly” approved of Obama compared to a third who “very strongly” disapproved. Seven in 10 Republicans lined up among those “strong” opponents. Then there’s the anger. Three in four Tea Party supporters do not believe “Obama shares the values most Americans try to live by,” according to a 2010 CBS-New York Times poll. Values conflicts stir the greatest enmity in politics, and with it energy.