THE WALL STREET JOURNAL / POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE
Monday, 23 January 12
The Republican establishment is aghast at Newt Gingrich's victory in South Carolina Saturday, with some calling it "cataclysmic" for the GOP. They point to Real Clear Politics polls showing Mitt Romney tied or ahead of Barack Obama, but Mr. Gingrich down by double digits to the president.
But this misses something. Mr. Gingrich did well in South Carolina because he helped the GOP overcome what I have described previously as the "excitement deficit." Mediocre turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire pointed to a potentially crippling lack of enthusiasm for this field of White House wannabes. But in South Carolina, turnout appears to have been up by as much as one-third.
Michael Barone, the dean of election analysts, finds that "turnout increased in South Carolina from 445,377 in 2008 to 600,953 in 2012 -- a 35 percent increase." Low turnout in 2008, he writes, "turned out to be a good indicator of the low spirits" of Republican voters that year. Mr. Barone says the "stagnant turnout" in Iowa and New Hampshire was a "bad sign" for Republicans in November.I heard some GOP commentators this weekend disparaging Mr. Gingrich as the Sharron Angle or Christine O'Donnell of the GOP field, referring to the two conservative Senate candidates in 2010 who lost to Democrats in the general election. But for now Mr. Gingrich is the GOP Energizer bunny who is
electrifying voters still not sold on Mitt Romney.
-- Stephen Moore