In what may be the most surprising development of the Newt Gingrich surge, a new McClatchy-Marist poll found that Gingrich scores better in a national matchup with Obama than any other Republican candidate:
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives is neck and neck with the incumbent president, back just 2 percentage points among registered voters. Obama leads 47 percent to 45 percent.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is next closest, trailing Obama by 4 percentage points. In that matchup, Obama leads 48 percent to 44 percent.
If you remember from the sweeping Pew Poll back in August, 66 percent of registered voters said there was “no chance” they would vote for Gingrich in a general election. Obviously that’s changed, and while the McClatchy poll hasn’t provided the internal data, it seems likely the shift was driven by GOP voters changing their minds about Gingrich. In the August Pew survey, nearly half of Republicans said they wouldn’t consider voting for the former Speaker. I guess the specter of having Romney as the party’s standard-bearer in 2012 has forced a lot of Republicans to radically recalculate their previous opposition to Gingrich. Also, the media has been giving Gingrich a pass since his campaign flat-lined during the summer, but his surge in the polls is sure to revive the negative coverage.
Will voters still find him electable after his checkered past gets picked apart by reporters? Probably depends on how averse they are to voting for Romney.