Throughout Newt Gingrich's surge, Mitt Romney has been unable
to grow his base of support (Chris Keane/Reuters)
Taegan Goddard, Charles Franklin makes an excellent point
about Newt Gingrich's rise ...
Through the summer one GOP candidate after another has surged to first place only to equally quickly collapse. Bachmann, Perry and Cain have each had their turn and their rise and fall are seen in the chart with recognition rising along with initial gains in net favorability only to then see sharp downturns. This, of course, mirrors their standing in the GOP nominee preferences as well.
But Gingrich’s path is somewhat different. His recognition levels have remained at the top of the field, along with Romney’s, at 80-90% with only the slightest of upward trends. This means none of the Gingrich favorability trend is due to new-found visibility, as it is for all the rest save Romney and (to a lesser degree) Paul.
... and about Mitt Romney's struggle to break free of his ceiling:
Romney has suffered a modest but steady decline in net favorability since April, declining from +50 to just under +40. That 10 point decline is modest compared to the fluctuations of other candidates, but it is perhaps all the more telling. Much of the discussion of Romney (including some of mine) has stressed his relative stability at 20-25 percent support for the nomination, with little apparent trend. That is true for nomination preference. But the gradual erosion of his net favorability suggests that the rise and fall of potential challengers has not been without some effect on Romney as well. As Republican voters have turned to candidate after candidate as an alternative, the cumulative effect seems to have hurt Romney’s attractiveness within the party. Not by a lot, to be sure, and with a still solid claim to a virtual tie for highest net favorability rating. But the trend is not what a front runner would prefer to see and it does not suggest a growing group of supporters within the primary electorate.
- Unlike the other Not Romneys, Newt Gingrich's rise came despite being a well-known quantity among Republicans—and it is a result of a steady uptick in favorability, not a sudden surge.
- Mitt Romney is still seen favorably by Republicans, but not only has he shown no sign of breaking through his ceiling, his struggle with the Not Romneys has taken a toll on his net favorability, and he's shown no ability to grow his base of support.
But the pundits have it right and Mitt Romney's got the nomination all locked up, right?