A couple of weeks ago, the Virginia Conservative Convention was supposed to pick George Allen as the conservative front-runner in their straw poll. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But something quite interesting did happen. They picked Newt Gingrich instead (results below), and Newt even doubled Mitt Romney, who, somewhat implausibly, has been trying to position himself as the conservative candidate in this nomination fight. But it appears that people didn’t buy it.
Instead, Newt’s combination of record and ideas are offering conservatives a way forward right after the election. People are thinking “Bush lost Newt’s majority, and Newt can bring it back.” Now, is Newt electable in a general? I seriously doubt it. And, in the end, I do not believe that Newt is electable in a primary. But conservative activists love him.
Now party people don’t like Newt that much. But if Newt successfully takes the crown of “movement conservative”, then Romney is in deep, deep trouble.Â Romney will lose votes to Newt. If the scrum contains Newt, Romney, Giuliani, and McCain, then Romney needs to be very, very worried. And if the party people get afraid of stopping the conservative movement candidate like Newt, then Romney is not going to be a reasonable place to settle.
Very, very interesting.
Votes Percent Newt Gingrich 45 31% Mitt Romney 21 14% Sam Brownback 18 12% John McCain 18 12% Mike Huckabee 11 8% Rudy Giuliani 10 7% Duncan Hunter 6 4% Bill Frist 4 3% Chuck Hagel 2 1% George Pataki 2 1%