Newt Gingrich's big win in South Carolina has the Republican establishment squirming and political experts churning, trying to explain what the results mean:
- GOP base in revolt. "People are mad as hell they are about to be stuck with another boring, moderate, uninspiring choice that has at best a 50/50 shot at losing to the worst president since Carter," says Erick Ericson at RedState. "Basically, today’s vote is about Republican grassroots giving the Washington Republican establishment the finger."
- Not about policy, but soul. Gingrich and Mitt Romney don't have many big policy differences; instead this is a debate about the emotion and soul of the Republican Party, reports the AP: 'It might not be pretty."
- Mormonism loses in today's GOP. Romney lost big among voters who care most about religion, according to exit polls. "An unexcited evangelical base combined with skeptical moderate Catholic voters undermines Romney’s chief campaign message of the last month—'most likely to beat Obama,'" writes the PJ Tatler. "It could be a prescription for a November defeat."
- GOP stuck with bad choices. "Gingrich, the supposedly conservative choice, isn't reliably conservative and the supposedly electable candidate is looking less and less electable," writes Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner.
- On the other hand... "Republican voters seem to have asked Mitt Romney for an open relationship tonight... have some fun before they marry him," mused Marc Ambinder on Twitter.