Is Gingrich the Next Goldwater?
If party elites can't stop Newt, it could be disastrous for GOP: Steve Kornacki
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 23, 2012 11:17 AM CST
Updated Jan 23, 2012 1:33 PM CST
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks during a primary night rally January 21, 2012 in Columbia, South Carolina.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – If Newt Gingrich manages to defy party elites and score the nomination, it's pretty much "suicide" for Republicans: "Everything about Newt Gingrich screams 'general election disaster,'" writes Steve Kornacki in Salon, from his "personal and ethical baggage" to his "arrogance." Indeed, his favorability score is less than half his 60% unfavorable rating, according to three national polls. Most likely, GOP bosses will manage to get rid of him. But on the other hand, this could be another 1964, with a new Barry Goldwater getting trounced by his Democratic opponent.

Goldwater won the nomination after the party establishment "dawdled" on finding a "consensus" candidate. Democrats had a similar experience with George McGovern. Recently, however, party leaders have managed to use "their outsize influence to shape mass opinion." Perhaps Republicans simply let their guard down after Gingrich's poor showings in the first two contests. It's also possible, however, that today's social media and news networks have allowed outsider candidates to "bypass elite opinion-shapers and reach the rank-and-file." If so, the GOP should be worried, Kornacki notes. Click through for Kornacki's full column.