Mitt Romney

Romney Most Electable Candidate, Yet Gingrich in Statistical Tie Among GOP Voters


Although national polls find Romney the most favored GOP candidate among the general electorate, and the most likely to beat Obama, Gallup finds Gingrich and Romney statistically tied among GOP primary voters. Perhaps this will signficantly change today if Romney succeeds in his predicted 13-point margin win in Florida.

The Electable Mitt Romney

According to the Real Clear Politics' poll aggregator, averaging national polling numbers from hypothetical match-ups between Obama and the GOP presidential candidates respectively, Romney is the only GOP presidential candidate to come within the margin of error of beating Obama. In contrast, Gingrich is the least likely to beat Obama, losing on average by 12.8 percentage points.


A new USA TODAY/Gallup Swing State survey, polling registered voters in the nation's most competitive battleground states including Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, finds Romney tying Barack Obama. In contrast, Newt Gingrich trails by 14 percentage points. According to this poll, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum both lose to Obama by only 7 points.

Florida's primary polls show Romney leading Gingrich, again, by an average of 13 percentage points.

By these measures, we should expect Romney to be clearly winning in polls of national GOP primary voters as they seek out the least objectionable candidate who can also beat President Obama in November.

Gingrich Slides But Maintains Slight Lead Among GOP 

Somehow, however, Gingrich has managed to stay atop of national polls among GOP primary voters, only recently sliding into a statistical tie with Mitt Romney.  A January 24th NBC/WSJ poll found Gingrich leading 37 to 28, a January 26th Gallup poll found Gingrich with 32 percent and Romney with 24 percent, and as of January 29th, Gingrich and Romney were statistically tied with 28 and 27 percent respectively. Newt is sliding, but not sliding as fast as some might have expected.

It may be useful to recap the recent timeline of Newt's rise and decline:

  • As I explained in an article on Newt's second surge, the January 16th and 19th South Carolina debates indicate to primary voters that a candidate other than Romney could be electable.
  • Gingrich closes Romney's 23-percentage point lead in less than a week to win with 40 percent to Romney's 28 percent in the January 21st South Carolina primary.
  • Immediately after South Carolina, the Florida primary polls flip in Newt's favor: Romney's 15 point lead on the 16th turns into a 9 point Gingrich lead by the 22nd.
  • Then the next day, January 23rd, Florida holds its GOP debate and Romney trounces Gingrich. Romney also takes to the stump in Florida town halls aiming to tie Gingrich to the establishment and reminding voters of Gingrich's failed leadership in the 1990s.
  • By January 26th major GOP establishment players break silence and levy mounting condemnatory charges against Gingrich, including: Elliot Abrams in the National Review, editors at the National Review, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. in the American Spectator, Ann Coulter, Bob Dole, and Tom Delay to name a few. Their charges echoed the same theme: 'Gingrich is no outsider, but rather an insider just like us, and we can tell you he's not fit to be President.'

Despite Newt's decline in Florida and inability to obtain traction among general voters, he maintains his statistical tie with Romney among national GOP primary voters. It may take a definitive loss in Florida today before GOP voters nationwide will be willing to admit Gingrich is not the electable alternative to Mitt Romney they hoped he'd be.


NEXT: Mike Riggs on Why the ACLU Likes Gary Johnson

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  1. By these measures, we should expect Romney to be clearly winning in polls of national GOP primary voters as they seek out the least objectionable candidate who can also beat President Obama in November.

    Apparently, they’re not seeking the least of GOP evils to replace the devil in the White House. A significant number of primary voters are apparently instead on the noble quest to prove to everyone just how very stupid they are.

    1. the noble quest to prove to everyone just how very stupid they are

      And your quest is to prove to everyone how very bright you are?

      1. he is, actually.

          1. That wasn’t a compliment.

            1. Fake Tim is back!

              1. Someone please rub my thighs with potato salad – the kind with mustard.

    2. Look, FoE, just because GOP voters vote for a guy who has nothing to do with their supposed “conservatism” and “small government principles”, and who would probably lose big to Obama, doesn’t mean they’re stupid. No, it means they’re retarded. See the difference?

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  2. Most likely to beat the incumbent polls are meaningless when there are multiple candidates vying for a primary win.

    When there is only one nominee left, the polls will show Obama’s chances are in the crapper.

  3. Newt Gingrich: Asshole.

  4. How does Obama poll against Ham Sandwich?

    1. Not bad, his real nemesis is Freedom Fries.

  5. This makes a lot of sense dud.e WOw.

  6. The Supreme Court unfortunately disagreed, ruling in Wickard v. Filburn that growing and consuming wheat entirely on your own farm still counted as interstate commerce

    No. What they ruled was that it had enough effect on interstate commerce that in order for Congress to put into effect its regulation of interstate commerce, it was also necessary and proper that Congress have the power to regulate this. The courts didn’t change the meaning of interstate commerce, but they ruled that things potentially affecting interstate commerce enough could be regulated by Congress too, as a step in the process of regulating interstate commerce. That’s the reasoning that has been used to mandate purchase of insurance policies — that the aggregate effect of people’s not buying insurance has enough of an effect on the business that regulating interstate commerce in that business — to the tiny extent that exists — requires mandating such purchases. In other words, that it’s an incidental part of a regulation on the (tiny) interstate health insurance business.

  7. The primary voters know that asking people who they would vote for today in the gen’l election gives non-predictive results. Once the Republicans have a nominee, the voters will reassess. I believe all the contenders are equally electable, and indeed that voters will pay practically no att’n to who the Republican nominee is, only that he’s not Obama. If they like Obama, they’ll vote for him, and if they dislike Obama they’ll vote for whoever the Republican nominee is. That would’ve gone for any of the major contenders as of a few mos. ago too.

    The only reason voters answer that poll question differently for different match-ups is that they’re trying to influence the nomination.

  8. All data suggests Romney is the most electable, but I’ve never seen an instance where Romney’s appeal has grown with voters with more exposure. In Florida, he’s not arguing for himself, he’s spending millions trashing Gingrich. So people vote for him by default on electability grounds. But all evidence suggests in the general election he will be unable to increase his appeal. Electability will be moot by then.

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