Newt Gingrich is outpacing Mitt Romney by a comfortable margin among Republican voters nationwide, but also is showing evidence of the vulnerabilities that could hurt the former House speaker in a general election, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.Well, it's still early. I've been extremely impressed with Gingrich in the debates, and while some suggest that Gingrich bombed in last night's debate, there's no doubt that Newt would decimate Barack Obama in a series of debates in the fall --- and he'd be much more aggressive against Obama, shamelessly aggressive, than Romney would be. That said, these primaries are heating up pretty good and I'm pleased that issues are being raised as pointedly as they are at this point. The eventual nominee will be that much stronger.
With the two rivals fighting it out in Florida after Gingrich's big South Carolina victory last week, the poll found Republicans nationwide favoring Gingrich 37 percent to 28 percent over Romney. GOP voters gave the former House speaker high marks for knowledge and experience, while they continued to harbor doubts about Romney's positions on the issues and his feel for average Americans.
But the survey also finds that many Americans overall, notably political independents, hold negative feelings about Gingrich, and that Romney fares considerably better in a hypothetical matchup against President Barack Obama.
The poll captures on a larger stage much of the drama playing out now in Florida, where Romney is scrambling to stop Gingrich's resurgence by jabbing at his weaknesses. After trailing at the start of the week, Romney has moved to even or just ahead in more recent polls. Florida holds its primary next Tuesday.
The poll also puts a spotlight on the bigger issue of electability, registering a distinct uptick in positive sentiment both toward the economy and President Barack Obama. Greater confidence in the economy would strengthen Obama's position leading up to the November election.
Obama's approval rating nudged up to 48 percent, while 46 percent disapprove of the job he is doing, the first time the reading has moved into positive territory for the president since June. Obama was losing to a generic Republican candidate last month, but the new survey finds him beating an unnamed Republican 47 percent to 42 percent, his best margin in seven months.
Specifically, Obama tops both of the leading GOP candidates, but is far stronger against Gingrich. When Americans were asked how they would vote today, the president surpasses Romney by a 49 percent to 43 percent margin. Against Gingrich, his margin swells to 55 percent to 37 percent.
More at Astute Bloggers, "NEWTNUTZ STILL DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE."