Tales from the Trail

Newt’s home field advantage was among the weakest

Newt Gingrich faces some do-or-die primary contests in Dixie, his supposed home turf, over the next few days. Alabama and Mississippi hold their respective Republican primaries on Tuesday with Gingrich, the former U.S. House Speaker, and former Senator Rick Santorum expected to compete for, and potentially split, the conservative/evangelical vote.

Gingrich, though, didn’t do that well on his actual home turf – Georgia – during the Super Tuesday contests. Sure, the former history and geography professor at the University of West Georgia and 20-year representative of the state’s 6th Congressional district won 47.2 percent of the Republican vote in the Peachtree State. But according to political scientist Eric Ostermeier, that was one of the worst home-state primary performances by a Republican in decades.

Ostermeier, from the Humphrey School’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, writes the blog Smart Politics, which plumbs the political data for noteworthy facts and trends.

“Gingrich – who admittedly won Georgia on Super Tuesday by a comfortable margin of 21.3 points over Mitt Romney – fared quite poorly when stacked up against the record of most Republican White House hopefuls over the last 11 cycles,” Ostermeier wrote. The only candidate to do worse than Gingrich in a home-state primary was television evangelist Pat Robertson, who pulled just 15.3 percent of the vote in Virginia in 1988.

Gingrich tied with John McCain, who also won 47.2 percent of the vote in his home-state Arizona primary in 2008, narrowly beating Romney and, of course, kicking on to win his party’s nomination.

O’Donnell credits prayer for campaign boost


Republicans may be abandoning Christine O’Donnell’s U.S. Senate campaign. But she still has friends in high places — really high places.

In fact, the Delaware Tea Party favorite is crediting divine intervention for the successes that her campaign has had.

“The day that we saw a spike in the polls was a day that some people had a prayer meeting for me, that morning for this campaign,” she tells the Christian Broadcasting Network, a cable TV channel founded by televangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson.