I have three card carrying Republican friends that I physically see and discuss politics with. Interestingly, none of these people support Gingrich (or Santorum) and as of today, the day after the South Carolina primary, I’m hearing some pretty tight mouthed grumping. All three support Ron Paul but all know Paul has no chance of being nominated and so are also willing to vote for Romney rather than take a chance on Obama winning again. All have said recently that, holding their noses, they are on board with Romney because he is the only candidate that has a shot at winning in 2012. The others candidates are more or less in tune with their conservative principles, but all are un-electable. My riding buddy has taught me a lot about Republicans. They all thought this was a done deal and considered that the others were place markers merely stating a lot of conservative principles all of them bought into but seriously doubted would ever fly in a National election.
Now the Republicans are facing a clear dilemma. They had a shot at the 2012 election from a candidate they weren’t thrilled with but was infinitely better than their mortal enemy Obama. It was just a matter of waiting it out. Then suddenly things changed. Because the State of South Carolina, a radically conservative State, bought into a spirited debate performance by an otherwise unacceptable candidate, they decided to rebel against the self fulfilling prophesy. Almost exactly what happened to Hillary in 2007. Hillary was the heir apparent, there was no way she could lose, it was her karma. She hadn’t really even worked at it. then came a debate performance by someone no one had heard of.
Now, it’s remotely possible that a candidate with an wholly unacceptable past history and even a high unacceptability rating within much of his own party could get the nomination if remaining ultra-conservatives unexpectedly get on board with the revolt. If Gingrich actually gets the numbers and nails the nomination, that will put him up against an infinitely more powerful enemy that didn’t exist before. Any deficit ascribed to Obama would be put into the perspective of his opponent.
All Republicans fear and loathe the media and Gingrich will go out of his way to fight a war of attrition with them, ultimately to be sucked dry like David Bowie in “The Hunger”. It’s a battle he will not win and in the end will destroy him. Those things are downplayed by conservative Republicans because they consider them lesser evils of available issues, but you can be sure that in a general election, they will be considered differently by a more pleuralistic population of voters.
There might have been some more moderate Democrats roll over for Romney out of frustration with Obama’s perceived weak management style. That will never happen with Gingrich. EVERY Democrat will go way out of their way to vote AGAINST Gingrich. Many independents that might have swung toward Romney as a more moderate alternative to Obama will definitely not do so. Many moderate Republicans will vote for Ron Paul out of frustration, essentially voting for Obama by default. unelectable candidates Paul and Santorum will go all the way to the convention out of pure hubris, fighting all the way, and will do everything they can to disrupt the entire process and the GOP will become the part of discord, while Obama smiles from afar. The Republicans will fall on their collective swords on principle and lose infinitely more than they gain.
Now responsible Republicans have gotten what they asked for and they’re going to have to figure out how to fix it. Gingrich simply cannot win a general election where his spectacularly evil past history on every level will be worked mercilessly by all his enemies including Republicans and Democrats, and his angry unpredictability will be on constant exhibit. He will spend most of his time denying and explaining, not very convincingly. There aren’t enough truly strident conservative Republicans to put him into the white House and it will be McCain revisited.