Newt Gingrich's campaign theme song should be the Lady Sovereign song that goes "love me or hate me, it's still an obsession." He is both the sixth-most admired man in America and the most polarizing Republican presidential candidate. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter.
Findings: Newt Gingrich is the sixth-most admired man in America.
Methodology: Survey of 1,019 adults from December 15 through December 18.
Why it matters
: Newt Gingrich? Newt "My Third Wife Looks Like a Disney Villan" Gingrich? The man who left office in 1998 with a 25 percent
approval rating -- he beat the pope and Bill Gates? Last week, Gallup
found that Gingrich was the most polarizing Republican candidate -- a net positive score of 14 percentage points for Republicans, a net negative 37 percentage points from Democrats.
Caveat: Gingrich got just 1 percent. Obviously, it's easier to do better in this poll if lots of people have heard of you. And it's possible lots of people answered the poll question with something like "my grandpa." That would lead to a huge split in the pro-grandpa vote, of course.
Findings: Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum are all tied for third place in Iowa with between 10 percent and 13 percent of the vote.
Methodology: Robo-calls to 565 likely Republican caucus-goers between December 26 and December 27.
Why it matters
: The New York Times
' Nate Silver
points out that these four candidates' support combined is 44 percent -- way more than Ron Paul and Mitt Romney's support, at 24 percent and 20 percent respectively. The folks fighting for third place all reach the same demographic groups, Silver writes. "If these candidates could somehow combine forces, they could very easily win the caucuses."
Caveat: PPP is a Democratic pollster.
Findings: Romney is the second choice for most Iowans who back other candidates.
Why it matters
: The Associated Press' Thomas Beaumont
reports that campaigns' private polls find the same thing that public polls have shown: voters are finally warming up to Romney. If the anti-Romney sentiment were still as strong as it was earlier this year, you'd expect people voting for, say, Gingrich to pick, say, Bachmann as a backup. And it's not just Republicans warming up to Romney -- Democrats have the least intensely negative views of Romney of any of the Republican candidates, Gallup
found last week.
Caveat: We'll find out of that's true in less than a week when Iowans enter their voting booths.
Findings: President Obama has a 31 percent approval rating among people who go to church more than once a week.
Methodology: 6,000 likely voters phoned between December 12 and December 22.
Why it matters: Social issues are supposed to be less important to the Tea Party, but many of them are social conservtives. Among the sinners who rarely or never go to church, Obama's approval rating is 58 percent.
Caveat: Rasmussen leans right.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
ereeve at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.