If Rick Santorum were the consensus conservative choice for the Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich’s support would long since have melted away. And although his chances of winning the Republican nomination are slim, he still wins the support of sucy prominent mainstream conservatives as Fred Thompson and Tea Party favorites and this former governor who dubs the former Speaker the “cheerful one”:
Since the former Pennsylvania Senator’s hat trick last month in the Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri beauty contests, he has not exceeded 40% in a single state whereas Mitt Romney finished well above that barrier in Arizona, Massachusetts and Idaho.* Newt won over 40% in each of his victories, South Carolina and Georgia, respectively.
There’s a lot of talk about Republicans looking for a non-Romney, but some conservatives, it seems, are looking for an acceptable non-Santorum. Indeed, in John Hawkins’s poll over conservative bloggers, he found Gingrich coming out ahead of Santorum when all candidates were included and beating Santorum in a head-to-head matchup.
And to many conservatives with doubts about Santorum, Newt remains the most acceptable alternative.
*I’m not including Virginia in this tally because only two candidates were on the ballot.