With exactly four weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, Newt Gingrich has now firmly solidified his support at the top of the Republican presidential field.
No fewer than four new polls this week show the former House Speaker with a nearly double-digit edge over Mitt Romney, the presumptive frontrunner.
A deeper look inside the polling numbers reveals the secret weapon behind Gingrich’s meteoric rise: Old people love Newt.
According to a Public Policy Polling (PPP) analysis of Iowa’s Republican caucus-goers, “Gingrich’s rise to the top is being fueled by strong support from seniors...” Among voters over 65, Gingrich polls at 37 percent support, leading Romney’s 18 percent and Ron Paul’s 11 percent.
Gingrich’s sway over blue hairs should not be underestimated: Iowa, the first-in-nation voting state, is one of the top-five oldest states in the union, and seniors make up a significant chunk of the state’s Republican caucus voters. In Florida, another early voting state stacked with old people, Gingrich leads Romney 47-17, according to a recent PPP survey. According to that poll, 54 percent of voters over 65 said they would vote for Gingrich.
This elderly-love could be the difference between a flash-in-the-pan Gingrich ‘boomlet’ and a real surge. As Talking Point Memo’s Benjy Sarlin points out, Gingrich’s willingness to dabble in Obama conspiracy theories and lambast entitlement cuts as “right-wing engineering” are actually signs that the candidate is playing to his base.
Gingrich’s first television ad, which airs this week in Iowa, is another indication that Gingrich knows his audience. The 60-second spot, entitled “Rebuilding the America We Love,” is uplifting and patriotic, with a positive message about restoring the glory days of Reagan. Gingrich, the once-bellicose Republican firebrand, is recast as a friendly and familiar grandfatherly caretaker, a move that plays into a collective conservative amnesia and allows voters to remember Gingrich as they would like him to have been.
Watch the new Gingrich ad here.
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