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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

DNC to Tea Party; 'Please Vote for Newt!'

After the last GOP debate, the Democratic National Committee released this web ad calling Newt Gingrich "the original Tea Partier." In it, he says a lot of things that would concern liberals, but not much that would bother conservatives. In fact, many in the rightwing blogosphere took the ad as a pathetic attempt to smear Gingrich for being correct. "[T]he fact that anyone would want to limit government spending horrifies democrats," wrote the perpetually-wrong Jim Hoft.

That Gingrich is an awful person is not something lefties need to be convinced of. A Gingrich presidency would make George W. Bush's terms look like a smashing success story, as an imperious egomaniac formed policy based on perceived personal slights and formed positions that respond to petty grievances. He would be a disaster and every liberal and Democrat knows it. The ad is clearly not aimed at the Democratic base.

And it's not aimed at the general electorate, either. For the most part, people do have a poor opinion of the Tea Party. But I don't think it's poor enough to be a handicap at the ballot box.

No, the ad is -- in my opinion -- a thinly disguised pro-Gingrich ad aimed at the 'baggers.


Washington Post, Nov. 29:

In surging to the top in the race for the Republican nomination, recent polls find Newt Gingrich has built a coalition of three high-turnout groups: older Republicans, tea party supporters and conservatives.


Tea party supporters swung strongly to Gingrich, from 11 percent in October to 31 percent in November, while Romney held steady at 19 percent. Conservatives show an identical swing, from 10 to 30 percent, in CNN polls from October to November.

"Tea party supporters accounted for two in three Republican voters in the 2010 midterm elections," the report continues. "And while the movement has lost support since then, tea partiers continue to make up a substantial and highly engaged segment of the Republican electorate."

Now, consider an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out today:

Romney faces a challenge with the Republican primary electorate, trailing Gingrich nationally by 17 percentage points as nearly two-thirds of Republicans view him as either liberal or moderate.

Gingrich, meanwhile, faces a challenge with the general electorate, as half of all voters say they wouldn’t vote for him in November, and as he trails President Barack Obama by more than 10 percentage points in a hypothetical contest -- compared with Romney’s two-point deficit versus the Democratic incumbent.

I think it's important to make the distinction; 50% of voters aren't saying they'd vote for Obama, they're saying they would not vote for Gingrich. As I always say, it's easier to get people to vote against someone than for someone -- and half the electorate is already predisposed to voting against Gingrich.

It's clear that Team Obama would rather face Gingrich than Romney in the general election. He may beat both in every poll, but the difference between the president and Mitt is always around 2% -- way too close for comfort. So what Democrats need to do is encourage conservatives to nominate Gingrich, while avoiding building him up in the eyes of everyone else. In short, a message that all but says, "Hey Tea Partiers, vote for Newt!"

You're looking at it.


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