Let me say up front that I'm not a Newt guy. This is my analysis on the recent debate about whether or not Newt should drop out given his poor showing in the recent primaries, and why I think there are some very, very good reasons why Newt should actually hang on until the convention.Anyway...
And because some frothing-at-the-mouth Ron Paul fanatic will ask me why I didn't mention Paul, I'm gonna tell ya: because Ron Paul was never a serious contender. An isolationist libertarian will never, and I mean NEVER, get into the White House. While it's fun to cast the occasional protest vote for the perpetual fringe candidate, nobody ever expects (or wants) Ron Paul to actually WIN the White House. Everybody has been trying to tell you nut cases that but you Ron Paul fanatics live on a whole different
planet. What's the color of the sky in your world?
Many Republicans are openly questioning why Newt Gingrich isn't dropping out, especially since Rick Santorum has been dominating the South and has largely taken the conservative vote. But I can see why Newt is holding out until the conventions.
This has been a rather ugly campaign season for the GOP candidates. Because Obama and the Democrats have been particularly partisan in their politics by driving an extremely socialist agenda over the past three-plus years, Republicans literally believe that another four years of Obama will be the financial ruin of this nation.
This is why they are being unusually pragmatic during this election. Traditionally, the purpose of the primary process for the GOP has been vetting the conservative credentials of Republican presidential candidates. The Mitt Romney's of the world would not and have not fared well in that environment.
However, there is an attitude of "get Obama out at any cost" that is causing Republicans to seriously consider the electability of potential candidates. This has made the GOP a bit schizophrenic. Mitt Romney is, by far, the most electable, but his lack of conservative credentials makes him seem like Obama Lite and leaves conservatives questioning whether or not Romney would take the fight to Washington and roll back many of the constitutionally questionable Democratic policies and laws passed in the Obama years.
Had there been no Obama, Santorum would be the darling of the Republican Party. Though his voting history on fiscal matters makes him more of a pork barrel dealer than a fiscal hawk, his positions across the board are predictably conservative. On any other day, this would have made him the Republican favorite.
However, Obama is in the White House, and he has demonstrated mass appeal with the ability to mobilize on the grassroots level. The Republicans recognize that if they are to have any sort of chance in the next elections then they need a candidate that has the same sort of wide appeal that Obama has. And Santorum's positions on social issues make him less appealing to independents. Without the independent vote, the Republicans have no chance at the White House.
So there you have it. Romney is very electable, but not very conservative. Santorum is very conservative, but not very electable. What is there to do? Oh WHAT is there to DO?!?
Enter stage left - Newt Gingrich. Oh... yeah... Newt. A political warhorse with proven conservative credentials and a witty, intelligent manner that warms independents to him. Newt is almost completely overshadowed by the Romney-Santorum struggle in the party, but if the party is still undecided when it enters the convention then Newt can actually sell himself as the acceptable compromise candidate.
And that's what Newt is counting on. Newt is viewed as a much more electable candidate than Santorum, having learned in some very nasty and bloody political battles to keep his mouth shut about very spiky and, let's be honest, rather irrelevant social issues. Additionally, Newt was the GOP standard bearer during the neocon resurgence in Congress. While traditional conservatives may not like Newt, they don't hate him. Newt is just conservative enough and electable enough to make him a viable candidate and keep him in the running.
Because the fact is that the GOP is struggling with the knowledge that Romney is just not conservative enough and Santorum is just not electable enough. And who does that leave?
The last man standing: Newt Gingrich.
So, who ACTUALLY has a chance to unseat Obama?
If we're honest with ourselves, Santorum doesn't have a chance in hell in the presidential election. The conservatives may love him but the independents aren't keen on him and Democrats would rather self immolate than even consider Santorum. It's expected that conservative candidates do well in the primaries, but they tend to flame out before they reach the convention if they maintain a strong stance on social issues. Santorum is a man of principles and is not shy about expressing his positions on various social issues. I salute the man, but even I consider his views to be extreme. If you can't win votes outside the party base then you've got no chance at all in the presidential election.
Independents will vote for Romney because they consider him a good compromise candidate and he's just palatable enough to woo some Democrats away from Obama, making him the most likely to beat Obama. The question is whether or not Romney has the will to push the conservative agenda while he's in office, or will he end up being that Massachusetts moderate that has had everybody wondering just who the heck he really is during his whole campaign. My take? Watch Congress. If Romney gets elected then the make up of Congress will determine what his policies will be. Congress will drive the Romney administration agenda.
As for Newt, I think he'd do fine with the independents, but he's left enough of a bad taste in the mouths of Dems over the years that no Democrat will cross party lines for him no matter how much they may dislike Obama. So the question is whether or not Newt could capture more of the independent vote than Obama. Yes, there's a lot of anger against Obama amongst the independents, but Newt doesn't quite have the same mass appeal to independents that Romney does.
So what's the bottom line?
The Republican Right doesn't know it yet, but this race is really between Newt and Mitt, not Mitt and Santorum. It's Santorum that's the outlier here. The poll numbers don't reflect this but Newt, being the political operator that he is, fully understands what this race is really about.
Don't listen to the talking heads. The establishment will get behind Newt before they'll get behind Santorum. The party base will get behind Newt before they'll get behind Romney. And when it comes to convention time, it's the common denominator that will unite the party. Newt just needs to stay alive until the convention.
And if Newt doesn't survive until the convention, then the Democrats will win in the end. Because Obama will easily beat Santorum on the social issues alone. And if Romney wins the White House then the Democrats still win if they can keep enough seats in Congress to ensure none of their policies will be rolled back. Romney isn't going to go to war with Congress and that's why Democrats are willing to vote for him.
Truth be told, for the good of the party, it should be Santorum that should bow out. If Santorum bowed out, the party base would shift to Gingrich. With the support of the party base, much of the establishment support would then shift as well. Gingrich actually has a chance to win the White House and he's the type of person that would fight to roll back legislation like Obamacare.