Based on exit poll data, ABC News is projecting Newt Gingrich the winner in today’s South Carolina primary. Mitt Romney is a distant second, Rick Santorum will place third, and Ron Paul fourth.
Gingrich’s win is all the more impressive because he had trailed Romney by double digits just days ago. But that changed quickly after Gingrich’s fiery performance in Thursday’s night debate.
But Gingrich and his supporters should be mindful that what he won is a GOP state primary. There are sobering polling data that point to Newt being widely disliked by the larger American populace.
In an article for the Washington Examiner‘s Beltway Confidential, Jan. 20, 2012, titled “America hates Newt Gingrich,” Conn Carroll writes:
“Unlike Mitt Romney, who occasionally beats President Obama in general election poll match ups, Newt Gingrich trails far behind President Obama in every survey. But just how bad are Gingrich’s unfavorable among the general public compared to Obama and Romney?
Not every poll releases their full results, so here are the most recent favorability results I could find for Obama, Romney, and Newt.
Fox News, 1/12-1/14:
Obama, fav/unfav, 51%/46%, +5
Romney, fav/unfav, 45%/38%, +7
Gingrich, fav/unfav, 27%/56%, -29
Obama, fav/unfav, 38%/45%, -7
Romney, fav/unfav, 21%/35%, -14
Gingrich, fav/unfav, 17%/49%, -32
Obama, app/dis, 47%/50%, -3
Romney, fav/unfav, 35%/53%, -18
Gingrich, fav/unfav, 26%/60%, -34
America does not love Romney, but boy do they hate Newt.”
Political pollsters and analysts have long observed that an important factor on which U.S. presidential elections hinge is the likeability factor: Americans have to like a presidential candidate to vote for him or her.
As Lowman Henry put it, writing in March 2007:
“We like to think Presidential campaigns are fought over issues, but in the final analysis the deciding factor is often the personality of the candidate. Voters have a basic need to feel comfortable with their President therefore the likeability factor of the candidates often trumps other considerations.
Ronald Reagan had the highest likeability factor of any recent President, and in some quarters the same can be said for Bill Clinton. Both attracted votes from people who disagreed with their policies — sometimes strongly — but who simply felt more at ease with them personally.”
Given that, I am curious what’s the main reason why some FOTM readers support Newt Gingrich. Is it his debating skills? His intellect? His repentance and conversion to Catholicism? His personality?