Jonathan Chait says the lesson from Newt Gingrich’s “hilarious implosion” is that polls offer limited value at assessing the prospects of presidential contenders this early in the process.
Based on the polls, Newt Gingrich had a reasonably good chance to win the nomination, hovering around 10% for much of the year. But I never took his candidacy with even the slightest bit of seriousness.
His speakership was a trainwreck, with him finally being deposed by a coup after several near-coups. He has no establishment support and would make a horrible nominee, and he also has repeatedly taken positions that alienate activists. He’s wildly undisciplined professionally and personally and is regarded all around as a has-been. Of course he wasn’t going to win the nomination.
Candidates with high name recognition have an advantage over candidates with low name recognition — they don’t need to break into the consciousness of the electorate. But when name recognition is the only thing you have going for you, you’re probably in worse shape than the polls suggest.