Influential Republicans in four early-voting states see Newt Gingrich as exceptionally intelligent and experienced, but they still have questions about his electability.
When asked for one word to describe the former House Speaker, 70 percent of the 154 GOP influentials in New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Florida surveyed in the latest Patch-Huffington Post Power Outsiders poll gave positive answers. Among the words used were "intelligent," "smart," "brilliant," "knowledgeable" and "competent." Synonyms of intelligence accounted for 41 percent of all responses.
Nearly all of the Republican activists polled (96 percent) said Gingrich has "the knowledge and experience necessary to make a good president," while almost as many (94 percent) said he "takes stands on issues you agree with." Four out of five described him as having "the personality and temperament" necessary to make a good president.
Despite this positive feedback, many GOP influentials say they still have some reservations about Gingrich, with several referencing his personal "baggage" or what one called "his reputation as a husband." Many also mentioned more conventional aspects of electability, such as Gingrich's need to "erase his campaign debt" or "get an organization up and running."
A new Bloomberg poll of likely New Hampshire Primary voters has Gingrich vaulting into third place at 11 percent, just 6 points behind second-place finisher Ron Paul, but nearly 30 percentage points behind front-runner Mitt Romney. All of the other candidates were below 10 percent.
Each week, our local Patch editors will be asking influential New Hampshire Republicans questions about the presidential campaign, and we'll report the results here.
We’re still looking to expand our list of influential members of both parties in New Hampshire. If you’d like to participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll connect you with the appropriate Patch editor.