by F. Grey Parker
There you go. I am all in. I thought there was every reason to believe Santorum could take Iowa and, now, it's been reported that he actually did.
(I would love to see that kind of vote counting mix-up in an interparty contest met by so many GOP yawns. But, that is another story.)
In the first Public Policy Polling score ahead of the South Carolina primary, Newt was beating Romney by 6 points. After last night's "debate" and Romney's mind-blowingly poor performance, those numbers have pretty much held.
This tells us a lot about the post Tea Party GOP base, particularly its elderly, southern manifestation; What they really, really want has very little to do with economics. What they are buying, and what Newt is selling a whole lot of, is a racially-coded ticket back to an America that never was.
As PPP noted:
"Gingrich is starting to consolidate his support with some of the more conservative parts of the South Carolina electorate. He has a 50-18 advantage on Romney with Tea Party voters. He's up 39-23 with those describing themselves as 'very conservative.' And he even has a 37-20 advantage with evangelicals."
Michael Tomasky is appalled and states that a Newt victory on Saturday means:
"... it’s about simple racism. If he actually wins South Carolina, the nomination fight and the party are suddenly in turmoil. It may only be for a week, but even just for that week, it would reveal a primary electorate that is so consumed with its paranoias that it has turned politics completely away from the question of who might govern the country well to who can best embody our hatreds and revenge fantasies."
No argument here.
Even the portrait Gingrich's second wife painted in an interview with ABC's Nightline of his serial moral and marital lapses hasn't seemed to narrow the spread.
David Badash is stunned:
"At Thursday night’s CNN GOP debate in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich managed to blame everyone — except Newt Gingrich — for the story that America was engrossed with today, that his second wife, Marianne, told ABC News that when they were married, Newt Gingrich asked her for an "open marriage," because he was having an affair with the woman, Callista, who ultimately became his third wife."
In fact, in last night's "debate," not only did Gingrich lash out at moderator John King for even bringing it up, his tantrum won him a standing ovation.
This matters. The Christianist, Dominionist and just plain moralist Evangelicals of South Carolina and beyond who dominate the Republican primary voter demographic don't care about Newt's litany of sins. It's not the moral fiber of the candidate they have an interest in; Rather, it is each candidate's apparent willingness to legislate the morality of others. Or worse.
Chauncey DeVega writes:
"Republican candidates are using overt signals, what are for all intents and purposes blaring air raid sirens and signal flares that race, whiteness, and American identity are deeply intertwined."
From smearing the working poor for relying on "food stamps," to implying that minority children have no "work ethic," Newt has done more than any other candidate to pander to... let's be honest... "Whitey."
That Newt is smarter and more sufficiently degreed than George Wallace doesn't alter the fundamentals of his popularity "surge" within this bunch of mouth-breathing throw-backs.
His campaign has been about demonizing "blacks" generally. Why? Because it works with the people that vote in GOP primaries. Period. And those voters have gotten Newt's message.
Ezra Klein is tracking the latest InTrade fluctuations which are dramatic:
"Mitt Romney's chances of winning the South Carolina primary fell to 37.8 percent -- an almost 50 percent drop in one day. Romney's chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination also fell, dropping from about 90 percent to 79 percent. Newt Gingrich's chances of winning South Carolina, meanwhile, more than doubled. He's now the favorite, with the markets giving him a 63 percent chance of victory. He's also seen his chances to win the Republican nomination rise to 15 percent."
Now, I don't think there's any question that Romney will still get the nomination. However, if Newt wins on Saturday, and I believe that he will, it puts Florida very much back in play. It also guarantees that the GOP race will get much uglier. The party establishment will not be able to start damage control over Bain or begin cultivating the appearance of unity any time soon.
Which is another reason I am actually rooting for Newt.
There are two very interesting polls which have just been released and deserve to be discussed together. The first is the latest Gallup poll of registered Republican voters. It shows a sudden 10% narrowing of the Romney/Gingrich numbers nationally. (Romney down/Newt up)
Click image for better view or got to source
|Image via Gallup|
Newt is at just under a 60% negativity rating and still rising among the whole of U.S. voters.
It's an explosion of disgust. Nationally, his 'negative' has gone up nearly 150% in under two weeks.
The longer Newt stays in this contest, coupled with his growing popularity in the GOP base, the more it exposes to the country just how out of step the Republican brand has become with the vast majority of the people.
The country needs to see this fact as clearly as possible.
So. Tomorrow is the big day. If I am wrong about the results, I will be the first to admit it.
I very much doubt that will be the case.