THE WEEKLY STANDARD cruisers, back from excursions on shore today in Roatan, Honduras, are talking about the new Fox poll, just out this evening.
The survey shows Gingrich up over Romney, 36-23, among likely national GOP primary voters, in line with other polls. One cruiser noted that, consistent with discussions on the panels of Romney's inability (so far) to add to his support, Romney's percentages in the seven Fox polls since July are 26, 26, 22, 23, 20, 22, and now 23. Not a sign of really catching on!
Pro-Romney cruisers, however, are heartened by his decent showing (he leads with 30 percent) when voters are asked their second choices. If one adds first and second choices, which isn't a bad gauge of support in a fluid primary environment, Gingrich only leads Romney 59 to 53. So the universe of readily available support to Mitt isn't far behind that open to turning to Newt. Bachmann, by the way, does better than the other second tier candidates in the second choice category—could she be the social conservative who comes up against Newt, Mitt, and Ron Paul?
Finally, in the general election match-up, Romney trails Obama by 44-42, while Gingrich trails by 46-40. This gap between the two challengers is sufficiently small so as presumably to make the Romney electability argument relatively impotent with primary voters. Which means Romney will have to make a positive case as to why he should be president—and why he isn't just a tall, monogamous man on a wedding cake!