The PJ Tatler

Can Newt Gingrich Maintain His Momentum for EIGHT Days?

Graph via The Daily Beast.

Newt Gingrich leads Mitt Romney heading into the Florida primary. Some polls say 7 points, others 8, and Rasmussen says 9.

But Floridians don’t vote until next Tuesday — January 31. And that’s a lot of time for Romney’s super PAC to do to Gingrich what it did to him in Iowa where 96% of negative super PAC ads targeted the Speaker. The Christian Science Monitor reports that in Florida the former governor’s supporters are spending 20 times as much money as his opponents:

Restore Our Future has spent $5 million in Florida for Romney since mid-December. That was when the political action committee launched get-out-the-vote efforts aimed at hundreds of thousands who have sought to vote by mail or at early-voting centers well before primary on Jan. 31.

The PAC’s outlay is more than 20 times the amount spent in Florida so far by any other group supporting a Republican candidate, according to Federal Election Commission filings analyzed by Reuters.

The challenge Team Gingrich has before it: what to do to maintain this enthusiasm? Because there’s a finite limit on the number of times Gingrich can exploit the sympathy of a conservative base that doesn’t like to see an elite mainstream media take cheap, tabloid shots.

As discussed yesterday, the consensus from the Newt-supporters at Red State to the Marxist character assassins at The Nation to conservative Newt opponents like Ann Coulter is the same on why the Speaker inspires support. South Carolina’s voters were not concerned about how Gingrich would govern or whether his hardline rhetoric would repel swing voters in the general election. They just wanted a fighter. In Coulter’s words from Sunday morning’s Fox and Friends:

Apparently, South Carolinians would rather have the emotional satisfaction of a snotty remark toward the president than to beat Obama in the fall.

But to continue to provide voters with a dopamine hit every time he speaks to their ideological frustrations, Gingrich needs to keep hunting for the new issues. Like a shark, if he stops moving he’ll be gone. But as he swims back and forth across the wide currents of his grandiose intellect over the next 8 days, can we count on Newt to be Newt and stumble into another Bain-style, “Right-Wing Social Engineering”-style impulsive attack that he’ll have to “shelve”? Yeah, probably.