Two national polls conducted in the last few days, by CNN and Fox, asked the core question of whether voters had a favorable or unfavorable view of the candidates. Romney is at 43 percent favorable to 42 percent unfavorable in one poll, and 45 percent favorable to 38 percent unfavorable in the other, giving him an average of a +4 percent favorability. President Obama is at 49 percent favorable to 49 percent unfavorable and 51 percent to 46 percent, for a +2.5 percent average. Santorum isn’t far behind, with numbers that would put him within striking distance in a fall campaign, especially given that he’s still less well known: He’s at 31 percent favorable to 34 percent unfavorable, and 31 percent to 36 percent, for an average of -4 percent.
So, there are three candidates at +4 percent, +2.5 percent, and -4 percent, all well within competitive bounds of one another. Newt Gingrich? He’s at 28 percent favorable to 58 percent unfavorable in one poll, 27 percent to 56 percent in the other—averaging -29.5 percent. Yes, -29.5 percent.
Newt Gingrich should never be underestimated. Perhaps he could even recover from a -29.5 percent unfavorability rating. But it’s quite a stretch for Gingrich to claim that he has an obviously better chance to win than Rick Santorum, either against Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.