Almost Half of Americans Dislike Newt Gingrich as a Person

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – December 21, 2011 – As we head into the last days of 2011, 2012 will very quickly bring the first of the primaries and caucuses for the Republican presidential nomination. At this stage, one of the contenders near the top is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a man who has been in politics for some time and about who people have strong opinions. Among all Americans, more than two in five dislike Newt Gingrich as a person (46%), dislike his track record as Speaker of the House (43%), and dislike his political opinions (43%). One-third of U.S. adults like his political opinions (32%), three in ten (30%) like his track record as Speaker and just over one-quarter (28%) like him as a person.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,237 adults surveyed online between December 5 and 12, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    Among Republicans two-thirds (66%) like Newt Gingrich’s political opinions, three in five (62%) like his track record as Speaker and over half (56%) like him as a person. Among Conservatives, these numbers surprisingly drop. Just half of Conservatives like Newt Gingrich as a person (51%) and like his track record as Speaker (54%) while three in five Conservatives like his political opinions (59%). He does best among Tea Party supporters where seven in ten (70%) like his political opinions, almost two-thirds (64%) like his track record as Speaker and almost three in five (58%) like him as a person.

    When given some statements about Newt Gingrich people have mixed feelings on him. Just over half of Americans (53%) say Newt Gingrich is an intelligent person while one in five (20%) disagree with that statement. His tenure as Speaker is not seen all that well as two in five (39%) agree that positions he has taken as Speaker have hurt the country while 28% disagree and one-third of U.S. adults (34%) are not at all sure. One-third say Gingrich’s Contract with America was a bad idea (34%), but over two in five (43%) are not at all sure, so people may not remember back to 1994.

    Americans are divided as to whether Newt Gingrich’s time away from government is an asset with one-third thinking it is (35%), three in ten (30%) saying it isn’t and one-third (35%) not at all sure. Gingrich’s personal life has also been made a small issue but over two in five U.S. adults (43%) disagree with the idea that his personal background, including his two divorces, makes him unsuitable to be president, but one-third (33%) do agree and one-quarter (24%) are not at all sure. But, probably not good for a presidential candidate, just one-quarter (28%) of Americans say Newt Gingrich inspires confidence personally and 44% say he does not.

    Again, Tea Party supporters are most inclined to be favorable of Newt Gingrich. Almost three in five (58%) say he inspires confidence personally, compared to 54% of Republicans and 48% of Conservatives. Almost four in five Tea Party supporters (78%) say the former Speaker is an intelligent person as do 70% of Republicans and 67% of Conservatives. But, over one in five Tea Party supporters (22%) say positions Newt Gingrich took as Speaker hurt the country compared to 18% of Conservatives and 16% of Republicans.

    Looking at Newt Gingrich’s political ideology, over one-quarter of Americans say he is too conservative (27%) or say he is neither too liberal nor too conservative (28%) with just 4% saying he is too liberal; two in five (41%) say they are not sure. Over half of Tea Party supporters (56%), Republicans (53%) and Conservatives (51%) all say Newt Gingrich is neither too liberal nor too conservative. But for someone who has been in politics for so long and on a national stage, it’s interesting to note that one-third of Tea Party supporters (32%), and over one-third of both Republicans (35%) and Conservatives (37%) are not sure about Newt Gingrich’s political ideology.

    If Newt Gingrich was the Republican nominee, three in ten Americans (30%) would vote for him, almost half (46%) would not and 21% are not sure. Seven in ten Tea Party supporters (70%), two-thirds of Republicans (67%) and just over three in five Conservatives (62%) say they would vote for the former Speaker. Among Independents, 45% say they would not vote for Newt Gingrich while 30% would and among Moderates, half (51%) would not vote for him while 23% say they would.

    So What?

    From week to week the stories surrounding the Republican primary seem to shift. Newt Gingrich has risen only in the past few weeks and the questions are already starting about did he peak too soon or will it last and see him winning Iowa and South Carolina and doing well in New Hampshire. But what if he is the eventual nominee? In a head to head match-up with the President he does not do as well as Mitt Romney and his numbers among Independents seem to show that as well. But, before the general election talk can start, the first votes in the primaries need to be cast.

     

     

    TABLE 1

    PERCEPTION OF NEWT GINGRICH

    Thinking about presidential politics, looking at the list of attributes, please indicate how you feel about each.

    Base: All adults

     

    Total Like (NET)

    Strongly like

    Somewhat like

    Total
    , Dislike (NET)

    Somewhat dislike

    Strongly dislike

    Not sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Newt Gingrich’s political opinions

    32

    11

    21

    43

    15

    28

    26

    Newt Gingrich’s track record as Speaker of the House

    30

    9

    21

    43

    15

    27

    27

    Newt Gingrich as a person

    28

    8

    20

    46

    19

    27

    26

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


     

    TABLE 1A

    PERCEPTION OF NEWT GINGRICH – SUMMARY OF LIKE

    Thinking about presidential politics, looking at the list of attributes, please indicate how you feel about each.

    Those saying Strongly/Somewhat like

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Party ID

    Party Philosophy

    Swing States

    Tea

    Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    2012

    2008

    Support

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Newt Gingrich’s political opinions

    32

    66

    9

    31

    59

    26

    6

    34

    36

    70

    Newt Gingrich’s track record as Speaker of the House

    30

    62

    10

    27

    54

    24

    9

    30

    32

    64

    Newt Gingrich as a person

    28

    56

    9

    26

    51

    23

    7

    27

    30

    58

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; 2012 Swing States are Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia; 5% states in 2008 are Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina and Ohio

     

     

    TABLE 2

    ATTITUDES TOWARDS NEWT GINGRICH

    Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements about Newt Gingrich.

    Base: All adults

     

    Total Agree (NET)

    Strongly agree

    Somewhat agree

    Total Disagree (NET)

    Somewhat disagree

    Strongly disagree

    Not sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    He is a very intelligent person

    53

    21

    32

    20

    10

    10

    26

    Positions he has taken as Speaker of the House have hurt the country

    39

    20

    19

    28

    17

    11

    34

    His time away from government is an asset

    35

    11

    24

    30

    15

    15

    35

    His Contract with America was a bad idea

    34

    18

    16

    23

    12

    12

    43

    His personal background, including his two divorces, makes him unsuitable to be president.

    33

    17

    16

    43

    21

    23

    24

    He inspires confidence personally

    28

    8

    20

    44

    15

    29

    28

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     


     

    TABLE 2A

    ATTITUDES TOWARDS NEWT GINGRICH – SUMMARY OF AGREE

    Please indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements about Mitt Romney.

    Those saying Strongly/Somewhat agree

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Party ID

    Party Philosophy

    Swing States

    Tea Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    2012

    2008

    Support

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    He is a very intelligent person

    53

    70

    43

    56

    67

    51

    41

    56

    58

    78

    Positions he has taken as Speaker of the House have hurt the country

    39

    16

    60

    40

    18

    43

    57

    42

    41

    22

    His time away from government is an asset

    35

    52

    25

    36

    50

    31

    24

    38

    37

    59

    His Contract with America was a bad idea

    34

    17

    48

    35

    16

    37

    52

    35

    35

    20

    His personal background, including his two divorces, makes him unsuitable to be president.

    33

    14

    48

    35

    20

    33

    50

    34

    34

    20

    He inspires confidence personally

    28

    54

    13

    26

    48

    22

    15

    27

    30

    58

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; 2012 Swing States are Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia; 5% states in 2008 are Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina and Ohio

     

    TABLE 3

    NEWT GINGRICH’S POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

    Do you think Newt Gingrich…?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Party ID

    Party Philosophy

    Swing States

    Tea

    Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    2012

    2008

    Support

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Is too liberal

    4

    5

    4

    4

    8

    3

    2

    4

    4

    7

    Is neither too liberal nor too conservative

    28

    53

    11

    28

    51

    22

    10

    29

    28

    56

    Is too conservative

    27

    7

    47

    26

    3

    30

    55

    26

    26

    6

    Not sure

    41

    35

    39

    41

    37

    46

    34

    40

    41

    32

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; 2012 Swing States are Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia; 5% states in 2008 are Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina and Ohio; indicates less than 1%


     

    TABLE 4

    VOTING FOR NEWT GINGRICH

    If Newt Gingrich was the Republican nominee for President, which is closest to the way you think?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Party ID

    Party Philosophy

    Swing States

    Tea

    Party

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons

    Mod.

    Lib.

    2012

    2008

    Support

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Would vote for him (NET)

    30

    67

    5

    30

    62

    23

    3

    34

    36

    70

    I definitely would vote for him

    14

    38

    2

    9

    38

    6

    2

    16

    19

    38

    I probably would vote for him

    16

    29

    3

    21

    24

    17

    1

    17

    17

    32

    Would not vote for him (NET)

    46

    14

    76

    45

    17

    51

    75

    43

    41

    15

    I probably would not vote for him

    10

    7

    11

    13

    7

    12

    12

    8

    9

    7

    I definitely would not vote for him

    35

    7

    65

    32

    10

    39

    63

    35

    32

    7

    I wouldn’t vote at all

    3

    1

    3

    3

    2

    3

    4

    3

    3

    2

    Not sure

    21

    18

    16

    22

    19

    23

    18

    20

    20

    13

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; 2012 Swing States are Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia; 5% states in 2008 are Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina and Ohio

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between December 5 and 12, 2011 among 2,237 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

     

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J40990

    Q933, 934, 936, 937

     

     

    The Harris Poll ® #132, December 21, 2011

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive

    About Harris Interactive

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