Gingrich posed the rhetorical question, “Who can best beat Barack Obama? I think most Republicans would probably agree that I would probably do a better job debating Obama than any other candidate, and I think it becomes a very viable, very lively campaign.”
For almost two months, Gingrich has been on a mostly downward trajectory (ceding momentum to Santorum) in the polls, in the voting booths and in the media share as reflected in our Fourth Estate data (see the chart to the left). An implicit message in DeSantis’ email to Politico is that Gingrich will be focusing on issues and substance over style.
As might be pleasing to Nate Silver who is seemingly promoting a more liberal use of the Etch-a Sketch as a candidate weapon, one of the dirty little secrets of this Republican primary has been the complete lack of discussion of issues. This lack of discussion of issues has occurred across TV, radio and print (the supposed last bastion of decency in civil discourse). The focus of the Republican primary on the Campaign itself to the exclusion of other issues can be seen in the chart to the right. There have been a small ongoing discussion of the Economy (green) and some surges in discussion of Social Issues (red) and Energy (blue) most recently, but for the most part the percentage of reflexive discussion about the Campaign itself has hovered around the 80-85% range. It will be interesting to see if Gingrich, operating at lower capacity and in the role of keeping everyone honest in terms of the discussion of real issues of real importance to American voters can move the needle toward more substantive issues as reflected in our Fourth Estate data.