February 6, 2012

The clock is running out on Gingrich

In the weeds.
I've never worked with Newt Gingrich, so I don't have a personal dislike for him as do many in the Washington Republican establishment.  Unlike some in the conservative camp, I'm not going to hold his past personal life against him - personal issues don't disqualify you from having good ideas and the idea that people can't change is, in  my opinion, closed-minded.  Furthermore, a few bad decisions in the past don't to my mind discredit the amount of positive works done by a candidate.  Meanwhile Mitt Romney has a history of flip-flopping on some major issues.  To expect conservative consistency from him is harder to imagine.  Out of the remaining field of candidates I believe only Santorum or Gingrich are ultimately electable. Paul has too many views that are radical to be elected, and Mitt Romney has too many flip-flops and not enough conservative base support to ensure both conservatives and independents turn out in his favor.

With all that said, the clock is still running out on Newt Gingrich.  He can still defeat Mitt Romney after back-to-back defeats in Florida and Nevada, but he's got to improve his game significantly, and do so very quickly.  If time is running out for him with me, it has to be the same for a number of other conservatives watching this race.

Newt Gingrich can no longer rely on the debates to move his polling numbers.  Firstly there are fewer of them over the next few weeks. Secondly, he's had a couple of them in Florida where he was clearly flat, if not on his heels.  Thirdly, Mitt Romney has hired a new debate coach and has clearly stepped up his game to close the gap between himself and his advantage.

Gingrich needs to run a better organized campaign.  Sure, he's usually strong on ideas and can talk to them if given the chance, as displayed in this meet the press interview this weekend;


But words alone are not going to win these primaries.  Mitt has a lot more money, a lot more donors and so does his supporting Super PAC.  Newt Gingrich will see his money dry up without a couple of wins in the next few contests.  Failure breeds abandonment, victory breeds support.  There's a snowball effect to it all.

That speaks to a better ground game, which Newt Gingrich does yet have.  Newt Gingrich is off the ballot in Virginia, and Missouri. Despite his claim that the latter was a calculated decision, it still seems like a mistake.  What Newt requires is solid organizations in the states where he is competing.  He needs GOTV (get out the vote) support.  He needs volunteers and more importantly solid, intelligent state leadership on his campaign.  Running a bare bones campaign he's been lacking that.  Lacking donations he can't build those efforts quickly enough in upcoming states.

Newt has said he plans a new direction in his campaign and he is re-calibrating his strategy to compete.  He expects to do well in the south and be competitive in delegates after the Texas primary.  Texas is indeed a big prize but California which comes later is even bigger, and it's hard to see Gingrich in a position to win in California.  Not without momentum, not without inspirational speeches and leadership (which has also been lacking from Gingrich, though form Romney too).

Newt is in a situation now where he needs not only a strong breakout moment to re-create his earlier momentum, but he also needs a bit of luck.  Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri are up tomorrow before a few weeks of no contests.  Newt needs to see Rick Santorum do well in Colorado as Santorum promised. He needs to do well there himself too  He needs to see Ron Paul do well in Minnesota where he seems to be concentrating.  He also needs to see Santorum surprise in Missouri.  Mitt Romney has momentum now and that very likely won't be broken this week.

This week will be dark days for the Gingrich.  He has two weeks to re-trench and get just about everything right going forward.  He'd better use that time well.  
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