At times like this, I like to remember William F. Buckley’s formula for picking candidates; picking the one that matched the title of this post.
Now, “most conservative” clause gets overlooked. And I’m sorry to say, I’m less and less convinced Newt Gingrich is “conservative” as much as he is “opportunistic”; that he’s as “conservative” as Bill Clinton was “progressive”; in other words, whatever it takes to get elected. And after Gingrich’s shameless descent into Alinsyite smear-jobbing his past month, I’m not convinced I could support the guy and sleep at night.
But for now, let’s focus on the “who can win” bit.
Romney led Obama by 47 percent to 42 percent in the Florida survey, while Obama topped Gingrich by 9 points, 49 percent to 40 percent. Among independents, Obama led Romney 44 percent to 38 percent and opened up a 56 percent to 29 percent advantage over Gingrich. Gingrich grabbed 12 percent of registered Democrats, while Romney secured 18 percent of registered Democrats.
“Newt Gingrich is weak among Florida independents and likely Democratic voters compared to Romney,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “If Florida is one of six key states that swings the national election, independents in Florida hold that key, and this poll suggests that Newt won’t be able to secure Florida for his party.”
In the popularity contest, Gingrich again did not fare well. He holds a 29 percent favorable and 58 percent unfavorable rating statewide among all likely voters. By contrast, Romney had a 44 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable rating. Romney’s popularity was lower among independents: 37 percent favorable and 36 percent unfavorable, while Gingrich’s popularity among independents imploded to 19 percent favorable with 70 percent unfavorable.
Even if I took Gingrich’s “conservatism” at face value – and I largely do not, not anymore – that, if true (and borne out by mo betta polling) really calls the question for me.
The question isn’t “who’s better at goading the media”; that’s not the President’s Press Secretary’s job.
The question isn’t “who can game the political mechanics better” – that’s what gave us Barack Obama.
The question is “Who is both conservative enough and who beat Obama?”
I have my serious, serious doubts.
And if Gingrich can’t convince me of both, he can forget it.
I’m going to pick the most conservative candidate who can win.
And I don’ think Gingrich is either.