28 December 2011

The Gingrich Advantage?

For nearly a week it's been the new fad to declare the Gingrich boom over. The candidate's failure to secure a spot on the ballot for the Virginia Republican primary has been portrayed as a major setback and a reflection on his organizational skills, which had been the subject of much criticism earlier this year. The spotlight has shifted to a perceived late boom for Ron Paul and the effort to drag him down by association with his (to say the least) ill-supervised newsletter of the Eighties and Nineties. Meanwhile, a modest statistic appears that seems to distinguish Gingrich from the rest of the Republican pack. The Gallup polling organization has released its annual list of Most Admired Americans, in male and female categories, as determined by respondents to a four day poll conducted with USA Today. As is customary, the President of the United States is the most admired man in the country. That is, 17% of respondents named Barack Obama, compared to only 3% for the runner-up male, who happens to be the previous President. Gingrich places sixth on the current list, albeit with approximately 1% of respondents naming him. That places him just behind Warren Buffett and just ahead of Donald Trump. This may not look impressive, except for the fact that no other male aspirant for the GOP nomination appears on the top-ten list. Despite everything, it seems, more people admire Gingrich than admire Mitt Romney or even Ron Paul -- whose standing may have been undermined by the poll's old-school phone-survey methodology. For the record, Rep. Bachmann placed tenth among Most Admired Women, with 2% of respondents naming her, well behind Secretary Clinton, the Most Admired by a wide margin, and non-candidate Sarah Palin, whose standing fell drastically from last year.

As with any poll measuring nationwide popularity, the benefits for someone who needs geographically concentrated support are limited. But Gingrich and his supporters ought to take heart from this news, however modest it may look. It would appear that he can depend upon a foundation of mass admiration that doesn't seem to exist for any of his male rivals. Meanwhile, and by the same standard, Democrats might take heart from the massive admiration gap separating the President from his most popular challengers. Of course, this isn't the same as asking people whom they'll vote for, but you never can tell....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A poll only reflects the attitudes of the people taking the poll. To assume it reflects the attitudes of the population in general is to err.