Back from the political dead, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now at or near the top of the polls for the 2012 GOP presidential nominee. Can Gingrich catch fire or will he eventually fade like the other “Mitt Romney” alternatives? Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post chime in:
Despite the former House speaker’s sudden return to prominence in the GOP presidential field, reservations about his long record in public life — and the baggage that comes with it — will continue to call into question just what kind of staying power he has.
Given what has happened to the last few would-be Romney usurpers, it would be no surprise to see Gingrich catch Romney and then quickly fade. We’ve already seen this story play out with Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and, most recently, businessman Herman Cain.
Gingrich has already gotten the rising part down. A CNN/Opinion Research poll released Monday showed him within the margin of error against Romney nationally, while Cain slipped to 10 points back.
But looked at another way, Gingrich’s rise isn’t really a rise at all. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Gingrich’s favorable rating among Republican voters is essentially where it was when the race started.
The poll shows 57 percent rate Gingrich favorably, while 25 percent rate him unfavorably. In March, those numbers were 55 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
That suggests that Republicans aren’t necessarily more interested in Gingrich, but merely that he suddenly seems like a more attractive candidate, given the dynamics of the race.
And that doesn’t speak well for his staying power.