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Republican polls summary: It’s gettin’ ugly

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Smart v. Stupid

Republican polls summary: It’s gettin’ ugly

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  • Newt Gingrich
    Gage Skidmore/FlickrNewt Gingrich

Here’s the latest wrapup of the Republican primary polls.

  1. Gingrich leads—toping one third of likely “R” voters in several states.
  2. Teabaggers break for Gingrich, despite all they’ve advocated up to now.
  3. Religious intolerance is alive and well.
  4. More than half of Iowa caucus-goers might change their mind.
  5. The Republican gasbag is deflating.

New polling by the Washington Post and others reveals that some of America’s most conservative voters still are conflicted about choosing a Republican nominee. Surveying probable Iowa caucus-goers, the Post confirmed other recent polls that show Newt Gingrich opening a commanding (if minority) lead in that state. Polls reveal Iowa voters see him as the “experienced” candidate, a quality they found disqualifying in the last election.

Gingrich’s trending support is because he’s willing to make outrageous and outrageously derogatory claims about the president. Republican primary voters want a candidate that effectively expresses their outrage, even if it is largely based on made-up things.

It also is likely that they don’t yet know about Gingrich’s long history of conartistry, lobbying and professional misconduct. One wonders if the typical Iowa caucus-goer knows that Gingrich was run out of Congress by his own party. I’d also wonder if they know that the Obama team is trying to steer them toward Newt.

Looking inside polls from several states reveals interesting details about the current state of the Republican race. It isn’t pretty.

First, Gingrich owns Tea Party voters. In both South Carolina and Florida, self-identified Tea Party voters (or “America’s only remaining patriots” as they prefer to be called) give Gingrich 40 percent margins. In Iowa and New Hampshire, Tea Partiers are breaking for Gingrich in smaller but still significant numbers. When it comes to the Tea Party ideology, of course, Newt is the least conforming candidate of the bunch. For this voter, anger seems to trump any belief that they may have owned in the past.

The latest CNN-Time poll provides confirming evidence that religious intolerance plays a significant role in conservative voting patterns. While Gingrich polls among “born-again Christians” in the same percentages in his overall total, Romney gets only about half as much support from Iowa’s big evangelical community as from other Iowa Republicans.

As WaPo’s Chris Cilizza notes, “Of all the different groups in the poll (old, young, rich, poor, men, women, etc.), none gives Romney a lower share of the vote than born-again Christians.”

Although one can certainly argue a different cause, the differences are statistically significant. And if you don’t believe that religious bigotry plays a role in conservative ideology, just ask an atheist.

The most recent Washington Post-ABC poll of likely Iowa Republican caucus voters pretty much confirms CNN’s findings. Likely voters break for Gingrich by nearly 2-1. Still, Gingrich’s support still tops out at one third of likely caucus-goers.

And that brings us to the most interesting data in the WaPo poll. One third of likely Iowa caucus-goers—an amount equal to all of Gingrich’s support—say there is a good chance they’ll change their mind by caucus day. When added to those who say that there is a less likely (but possible) chance they’d switch, more than half of voters still haven’t locked in for any candidate.

Lastly, Gallup reports that only “half (49 percent) of Republicans now say they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting in next year's presidential election, down from 58 percent in September.” And in Gallup’s new daily tracking poll (Dec. 8) Gingrich is down two points (34 percent) while Romney is up two (25 percent). Paul, Bachmann, Perry and even Santorum also are up.

Sorry Democrats, Candidate Newt Gingrich is still no sure thing. But what started out as an unwinnable election for Obama is starting to look like it could become his to lose.

Jimmy Zuma splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Tucson. He writes the online opinion journal, Smart v. Stupid. He spent 5 years in Tucson in the early ‘80s, when life was a little slower, swamp coolers were a little more plentiful, Tucson’s legendary music scene was in full bloom, and the prevailing work ethic was “don’t - unless you have to.”

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