Twenty minutes after polls closed in Georgia, the New York Times was claiming victory for Gingrich after surveying exit polls in his home state. With less than 1% of polls reporting, Gingrich boasted above a 40% and climbing vote share, with CNN and other major media outlets already projecting his Georgia win, as well.
No surprise here. Gingrich has long been the frontrunner in the state. At one poll results viewing party in Athens, Georgia, attendee Alix Crook echoed a common sentiment at the party: “I’m not surprised by any means.”
On much of the campaign trail leading up to Super Tuesday, Gingrich promised to win Georgia’s 76 delegates, citing the state’s significance for the rest of his campaign run. The strong trend towards home state advantage certainly delivered for Gingrich, who represented the state in Congress for 10 years.
But it didn’t come without a cost. His campaign spent an almost a full five days campaigning in Georgia, more time than any other GOP hopefuls. And although he was outspent by Mitt Romney in (largely attack) ad time in the state, Gingrich spent a sizable amount of money in TV and radio ad time and in campaign stops, much more than would seem necessary for what most consider an extremely loyal support base. Gingrich’s repeated claims in desperately needing Georgia’s delegates to keep his campaign afloat might lend some explanation. Gingrich was taking no chances; for his campaign, it was Georgia or bust. And he was certainly not risking that by a presumption of support.
While voters in Georgia responded to Gingrich’s calls in high numbers, that’s not to be expected in any of the other nine primary states or in those in the future. The intense effort in Georgia, according to Newt, was necessary for putting a renewed momentum back into his campaign. But his campaign can’t reasonably expect to funnel the same money and campaign work into getting the same response in every other state moving forward. Home state advantage aside, he doesn’t have the money or the time, and his delegate count thus far is still low, even with winning all of the 76 in Georgia.
His desperate performance in Georgia won’t be sustainably translated into other states where support is still dismally low. And at this point, another billionaire supporter bailout can’t help his cause. He ran a laudable lap, but will, ultimately, lose the marathon.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore