The Romney can’t break 25% narrative may be overdone, but no other way to explain Newts resilience than deep dissat w/Romney.
I think there is another way besides “deep dissatisfaction with Romney.” After all, the notion of Newt’s resilience is really built on about a 10-point swing in polls conducted in South Carolina. It doesn’t show up (yet) in the national polls, and it’s unclear whether it ever will. It depends on how the South Carolina outcome is spun and whether the Florida outcome—where Romney is still very likely to win—immediately overtakes the news. So I don’t think that late movement in South Carolina polls is a reliable barometer of overall feelings about the Republican field.
But more importantly, attitudes toward Romney are actually pretty favorable, even among supporters of other candidates. Including Gingrich’s supporters!
In a January 14-17 YouGov poll, 66% of Gingrich supporters said they had a “very” or “somewhat favorable” opinion of Romney. About 15% were neutral. The remaining 19% were unfavorable, but only 2% were said “very unfavorable”—which is how I would translate “deep dissatisfaction.” The same thing is true of Santorum supporters: 57% had a favorable view of Romney.
Look, it’s clear that some Republicans would prefer a nominee besides Romney. But, as Lynn Vavreck and I have argued (and see Nate Silver as well), we cannot interpret a vote for someone besides Romney as a vote against Romney.