UCLA Political Scientist says Newt Gingrich is Biggest Threat to Obama

We hear a lot of speculation from journalists who are experts at . . . uh, . . . journalism. But there actually is an academic specialty on the study of politics. It’s called “political science.

After watching in frustration as the nation’s press corps has written the history of one presidential election after another, UCLA political scientist Lynn Vavreck finally decided something had to give.

“It takes academics three years to analyze all the data and figure out what really happened in a campaign, and that is almost always in contrast to what has already been written into the record by journalists,” she said. “But by that point, nobody cares anymore.”

So she and research partner John Sides are foregoing the stately pace of scholarly journals — at least during the 2012 election.

“With technology being what it is, academics can survey people much more quickly than has been possible in the past, and we can put our assessments out there at the same time as journalists,” she said.

To that end, Vavreck, an associate professor of political science and communication studies at UCLA, and Sides, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, will be surveying 1,000 people a week beginning Jan. 3 and ending on Election Day in 2012.

They will post findings from DATA POINTS 2012, as they’re calling their in-depth survey, on two blogs: The Monkey Cage and Model Politics.

Watch the video of Vavrek up above. It was made back in December. She talks about Gingrich starting at 1:58


I apparently won’t be able to watch the GOP Debate in Florida tonight live and livesteaming is a little too much for my 5 year-old E-Machine (Dell clone) so there won’t be a separate debate thread tonight. Besides, I already drank my weekly ration of beer last night watching football.

I’ll probably follow the Drunk Blog at VodkaPundit and try to watch some of it later. If there is anything noteworthy I may post about it for the morning. I’ll be around for a while though.

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85 Responses to UCLA Political Scientist says Newt Gingrich is Biggest Threat to Obama

  1. Three Wickets says:

    @jaketapper: RT @philipaklein: Palin: Chris Christie got “his panties in a wad” after SC, made “rookie mistake” by blasting Newt http://bit.ly/xdWw8B

    @jaketapper: The Obama campaign put out another attack on @MittRomney today even though he’s not technically the frontrunner any longer. Hmmm. :/

    Axelrod really really wants everyone to know he wants to run against Newt.

  2. HELENK says:

    Has backtrack ever faced anyone who is not afraid to fight back?

    Newt does not seem to be afraid to stand up to backtrack. Something the American people want and need right now.
    If the others running would get some backbone, it might be a different race

  3. Lulu says:

    Obama does not want to run against Newt. When they say that crap about wanting to do so it is bravado. Newt has no scruples. None. Obama has always presumed upon the scruples of opponents to not “go there” with race, his background, his lousy record and frankly his laziness. Newt will go there. Rudely and loudly go there. The WH knows it and their plan is to always shut down dissent quickly before it can get out. The press seems genuinely shocked that Newt is getting so much attention (much of it good) from calling them out as sycophants and it is putting them in a spot which they do not know how to handle. Again I do not want Newt to win and I do not know if he is even able to do so. But he can make Obama wish he had never run in 2008 because he is that horrible. The political scientist is correct.

  4. myiq2xu says:


    NBC isn’t showing tonight’s debate live on the west coast. I’m supposed to watch a rerun at 9pm?

  5. Newt might be the biggest gift Obaxlerove could ask for. How many Clinton voters hate obama- but hate the newt even more? How many disaffected Dems would come out against that vile nasty man? (the R vile nasty man)

  6. imusthavepie says:

    my comment above was supposed to nest and reply to Helen @3:27pm.

  7. DeniseVB says:

    Meanwhile, having fun on STFU speechifying eve 😉


    I dunno, everytime I see SOTU, I think STFU, goes back to early GWB ?

  8. WMCB says:

    OT, put I have a couple of racks of lamb on the wood grill, I baked a gorgeous loaf of boule (round) bread earlier, and I have whole hearts of romaine ready to pop on the grill when the lamb chops come off.

    And yes, I did all this, including getting the fire going. Hubby is not even home yet. Pardon me if I gloat. 😀

  9. HELENK says:

    Newt Gingrich’s consulting firm worked for Freddie Mac in 2006 and was paid $25,000 a month, according to contract – @PoliticalTicker

    • HELENK says:

      how many hours per week?
      how many people involved?
      how much expense?

      Questions that probably will not be asked

      • myiq2xu says:

        I’m not overly concerned about what a politician does after they leave office because they really don’t have anything left to sell.

        As long as the system is set up so that they can legally make millions for giving speeches and lobbying, they’re gonna do it.

        BTW – Bill Clinton cashed in pretty good after he retired too.

        • HELENK says:

          my take on it was that the MSM would be screaming he made $100,000 a year and not ask about the cost.

          As long it is legal and the opportunity is available , wouldn’t they be a fool not to take it?

    • jeffhas says:

      Barney Frank was on MSNBC spinning the yarn that Newt took the Freddie Mac gig during the time the Repubs controlled congress and left the gig after the Dems took over… except, he’s completely wrong.

      The Dems better get their talking points co-ordinated.

      • 1539days says:

        Barney Frank? He’s the guy who’s responsible for Freddie Mac getting away with the shit it did.

        You know, Newt wasn’t even “lobbying” for big oil or an automaker of a bank. He was working for a quasi-government entity. Barney Frank probably authorized the payments.

  10. HELENK says:


    backtrack must really be scared of running against Newt

  11. DeniseVB says:

    vodkapundit’s link, he’s already setting up 🙂


    I’ll be watching *live* and hanging here too ….

  12. HELENK says:

    this may explain a lot about Romney’s campaign
    top advisors worked for Charlie Crist. We know how well that worked out


  13. DandyTiger says:

    This debate is cracking me up. Best line of the night comes from Mitt about how he’d take care of the illegal immigration problem. He’d have the illegals “self deport”. I couldn’t stop laughing.

    I want to self deport to another country myself.

  14. WMCB says:

    Good Lord, this is the most boring debate ever. Someone needs to throw some hamsters on the stage, or streak across naked or something.

  15. WMCB says:

    Santorum is full of shit on Terry Schiavo. He did a hell of a lot more than just calmly and respectfully lobby for a judge to take a look at it, since the family members were at odds and it was a Solomon’s choice kind of thing.

    If that had been all they had done, I might have disagreed, but would have been much more okay with it. They didn’t – they turned it into a fucking circus with her husband accused of trying to “murder” her.

  16. insanelysane says:

    When I saw Newt sitting on that sofa on the beach with Nancy Pelosi saying he agreed with the climate change science, I felt better about things.

    To see a man I despised ,because of his cut throat partisan mentality and his prowess at the game, slide away from the extreme right POV, was a good thing.
    One less enemy, I thought.

    But now, I recognize just how craven he is…a snake oil salesman
    Obama is a panderer, Newt sells feel good medicine.

  17. WMCB says:

    Gah….terrible debate. What a snoozefest! A commenter on Hotair had a good summary:

    “NBC debate, condensed: If Fidel Castro died from eating space sugar from the Everglades, could Terry Schiavo vote in Spanish? Mitt Romney, take 9 hours without interruption to answer as you please!”

  18. mothy67 says:

    I am firmly ABO and will confess the Newt is growing on me. just like everyone else I sat in frustration as first Hillary and then Sarah was pilloried by the MSM. Believe the only one who can hold the media accountable is someone like Newt. I manned phone banks, donated and walked door to door for Hillary. I have tremendous respect for her but i am not a “fan” and well aware that she is not my friend. So when people get all crazy on me saying if you are for Hillary how can you support Newt. Hillary is not running and whoever the eventual R nominee is he/she(fingers crossed for SP) will be running against the media as well. Only Newt has what it takes to force them to examine obama. no chance in hell mittens can and if he tries it will be contrived. The man does not have that passion in his belly.
    I also think that blaming Newt for impeachment and accusing him of hypocrisy is a yawn. I need to remember things in a historical context. politics is blood sport unless you are the first black president and then you get pass after pass.
    The majority of people as proven in 2008 get their political information from the likes of diane sewer and george suckalotus. Most do not challenge. I worked the phones for Hillary from Pittsburgh on the eve and day of the Ohio primary and I was astonished by the number of people who said they had been behind her but the racist stuff was unforgivable. You only get these people for a few minutes and you are not allowed to argue. How in two minutes do you explain the “fairy tale” taken out of context quote. Hillary won Ohio anyhow but had she fired back and taken the press to task the results would have been much starker.
    off the top of my head I can recall 20 instances were Sarah Palin was criticized in a very sexist manner and each instance got barely a blurb. Even today food stamp president is deemed by the MSM as racist. How? More white people get food stamps than African Americans.

    Anyhow i am getting some Newt love on because only he can lean forward and give that perfect pause and then rip his opponent to shreds.
    John King is forever in my mind a eunuch. I have no doubt that the Sarah Palin of today could handle katie cowlick and if her leash had been taken off could have done it in 08. In some ways I want to support whoever the media tells me I should not(with the exception of Saint Torem– will never get behind him)

  19. mothy67 says:

    Wow so sorry did not realize I went on that long.
    Grilled romaine? Really? Do you have to eat it hot off the grill? I love a homemade caesar but no one else will eat it because of the raw egg and anchovy thing. Do cherish the sound of breaking it a part. I love to cook and bake as long as there is no time limit. Housewives amaze me!! Getting a well rounded meal on the table everyday at a certain hour is profound. When people diminish the stay at home mom I am on the front lines for defense. A stay at home mom works at least five jobs. I have some upper managerial experience and I wish I would have been given the liberty to have hired two 50 year old women part time than any 24 year old. Women get shit down and raising a kid is a tremendous asset.
    When i was in the position where I hired managers. I got call after call from the guys. Women just took care of it.

  20. myiq2xu says:

    Newt up 5 in Florida

  21. DeniseVB says:

    I fell asleep, so went to VP’s debate transcript to get the summary, and I think he agrees with all of you who suffered through it 😀

    Now is time on drunkblog when we summarize. And tonight, that’s a mercifully easy job to do, because tonight’s debate was unmercifully awful. So much so, that I did the job a full twenty minutes before the debate ended. So if you’ll allow me the indulgence — and you do know that I love to indulge — please allow me to repeat myself from the 7:24PM marker:

    There is only one explanation for this debate: NBC News wanted to show off the GOP contenders as the world’s Most Boring and Irrelevant White Guys. On tomorrow night’s NBC News primetime program, the second coming of Black Jesus.

    I stand by that remark, as offensive as some people may find it. Tomorrow night, I’ll be right back here at my desk to cover the State of the Union Address. And I’ll tune in to NBC News to cover their coverage, so we can do a little Compare & Contrast of the two events.

    But I will tell you safely in advance: It’s Boring White Guys versus Black Jesus.

    Mark my words. Tune tomorrow and see.

  22. WMCB says:

    This is interesting. People (esp the GOP poobahs and media) keep touting Newt’s unfavorability numbers as making him unelectable. I don’t buy it, any more than I bought Hillary’s higher unfavorables, because those things are not set in stone – they change, often dramatically, based on events.

    New poll just out. Newt and Romney are now almost tied in favorable/unfavorable ratings nationally.

    Oh, and the cry that “only Romney can win the Independents!!”? Newt beats him in favorability among Independents, and ties unfavorable.


  23. WMCB says:

    True story

  24. WMCB says:

    Trying again. True Story.

    Obama gave 1% to charity. Biden gave <1%. Romney gave 15%. Unsurprisingly, the MSM casts Romney as the greedy one.— Jon G. (@ExJon) January 24, 2012

  25. yttik says:

    One of the most exciting things about the debates is watching one of Ron Paul’s eyebrows attempt to escape.

  26. murphy says:

    Giving 16% of your income to the Mormon church isnt necessarily charity. I’d like to know how the church spends its money before I call that charity.

    Though the stinginess of obama and biden is appalling no matter what.

    If when Republicans say they are the party of small government what they really mean is Small Government / Big Churches, count me the fuck out.

  27. Three Wickets says:

    Romney has dropped 20 points nationally among blue collars since his tax thingie.

    If Romney proves unpopular among these voters, it’s not impossible that Dems could win them back in the numbers they need next year. It’s true that Obama’s numbers among them remain worse than Romney’s; his negative rating is 56 percent. But according to a recent Center for American Progress study, Obama only has to limit his losses among this demographic in order to win reelection, provided he does reasonably well with upscale, college-educated whites — and today’s Post poll finds he’s rising with that group.

  28. foxyladi14 says:

    well of course,he is going to pay for their college 🙄

  29. murphy says:

    ” Like worshipers in your local Catholic parish have no say over what goes on in the Vatican, the average Mormon has no say over what happens in Salt Lake City.”

    Individual members may have no say, but that doesnt meant they dont know, and in knowing, continue to give (or stop giving) depending on the degree to which they support the activities of their own church.

    catholics, lutherans, baptists, jews, muslims, and mormons too, know very well where the money they are giving is going (not to the dollar of course).

    Many catholics stopped giving to the Sunday basket during and after the priest raping children scandal. Catholics also tend to be proud of the billions they give to help the poor around the world. As are baptists, jews, and muslims. They give because they support the activities their church undertakes, not because they are robots who have been told to give the church money. There’s no reason to think mormons arent the same.

    Individual taxpayers have no say on where our contributions go, but that doesnt mean we dont know where it’s going or have a (strong!) opinion on how our money should be spent.

    Mormons seem, by their silence, to support the tiny fraction of their tithing going to charity.

    Also, the mormon hierarchy is profoundly different from the hierarchy of other churches. Mormons dont have a separate clergy. All mormon men are considered leaders of the church, as long as they follow the right path, and absolutely DO have a say over how their church spends its money. Mitt Romney, as a ward bishop and stake bishop in his congregation certainly DID have a say as an individual.

    • votermom says:

      As much as I don’t like the Mormon religion, I respect someone who puts their money where their mouth is by supporting what they do believe in.

    • yttik says:

      The thing is, do we have the right to demand that somebody give their money to the government rather then their church? That’s the argument that’s being made here. The problem is the Gov uses our tax dollars to invade small countries, torture and detain people, and buy 700 dollar toilet seats. Sometimes they might even throw a few hundred bucks towards education or roads, but keep in mind that Romney alone gave them 6-8 million for that.

  30. catarina says:

    Mittens and Mormons aside, the tax code could sure stand to be reformed.

    But I doubt that’s the topic of tonight’s SOTU..

    • yttik says:

      One problem with reforming the tax code is that it always, always, comes back to hit the middle class. The tax code is based on profits and if you’re a wage slave like me, that’s my entire income. I have nothing else to live off of but what I earn, profits. If you’re rich, you don’t have to earn any money at all if you don’t want to. You can just sit back and live off your wealth and refuse to profit at all. I’ll be the one left behind and forced to pay the “taxes on the wealthy.”

  31. HELENK says:


    between backtrack keeping all his money and the unions spending theirs on recalls and right to work states, the dems are a tad upset about money

  32. HELENK says:

    today’s obot song for the SOTU

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