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Obama Vs. Gingrich? More Reasons GOP Fears The Matchup

It's not that the panicked Republican establishment needed more fodder for its attack on GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich as the wrong man to take on President Obama this fall.

They've managed quite nicely themselves over the past few days, piling on the pugnacious former House speaker, circa mid-1990s, in direct proportion to Gingrich's rise in the polls in Florida and nationwide.

But Friday, the day after Gingrich turned in a mediocre performance in the final debate before Florida's crucial Tuesday primary, nonpartisan political analyst Stuart Rothenberg served up another supersized example of why the party fears the Newt.

He also had some not-so-good news for Gingrich's chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Rothenberg's latest presidential race calculations show that Gingrich would get clobbered by Obama in the tally of all-important state Electoral College votes, 328-180, with only 30 votes seen as tossups. Those estimates are unchanged since Rothenberg's similar analysis a month ago.

There are a total of 538 electoral votes; 270 are needed to secure the presidency.

And Rothenberg is now projecting that Romney has lost electoral vote ground to Obama and would be in a dead heat with the president, 237-237, with 64 votes still viewed as tossups.

Obama has picked up strength since Rothenberg's December presidential rating, which had Romney leading the president 275-217, with 46 tossup votes.

Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, titled his analysis from earlier this week: "Will GOP Risk Goldwater II With Newt Gingrich in 2012?"

For those not versed in the politics of way-back-when, in 1964, Rothenberg writes, "an angry Republican Party threw caution to the wind and nominated conservative Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater for president," a perceived "truth-teller" seen as a movement conservative.

The result was a bloodbath: Goldwater lost all but six states to Democrat Lyndon Johnson, and got only 38.4 percent of the popular vote.

A similar fate befell Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, the South Dakota senator and protest candidate who lost every state in 1972, including his own, except Massachusetts.

Gingrich has tapped into a vein of anger in his party, and discontent with establishment Republicans. But his prospects against Obama, by many measures, including Rothenberg's Electoral College analysis, appear to remain bleak.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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