The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Gingrich’s Divorce, and the So-Far Missing Gender Gap


I appeared on CNN’s American Morning today, and one of the topics at hand was a new revelation about Newt Gingrich’s first divorce. Gingrich says that his wife requested the divorce; the court papers indicate the opposite:

Newt Gingrich filed a divorce complaint on July 14, 1980, in Carroll County, saying that “the marriage of the parties is irretriebably (sic) broken.” Jackie Battley Gingrich, the congressman’s wife and the mother of Jackie Gingrich Cushman, responded by asking the judge to reject her husband’s filing.

“Defendant shows that she has adequate and ample grounds for divorce, but that she does not desire one at this time,” her petition said.

“Although defendant does not admit that this marriage is irretrievably broken, defendant has been hopeful that an arrangement for temporary support of defendant and the two minor daughters of the parties could be mutually agreed upon without the intervention of this court,” her petition said. “All efforts to date have been unsuccessful.”

It’s hard to imagine this being much of a factor in the days ahead; Gingrich’s marital history would seem to be “priced in” to his standing in the GOP field. Few of his supporters in Iowa are backing him because they think he makes such a swell husband.

Of course, it will be fascinating to study the results of the Iowa caucuses and see if the entrance* polls indicate a wider-than-normal gender gap on the Gingrich candidacy. Anecdotally, men seem to shrug at Gingrich’s successively younger wives, while women roll their eyes or have even stronger reactions. In 2008, the turnout in the GOP caucus was 56 percent male, 44 percent female; obviously many Iowa women were more interested in the Democratic contest that year. New Hampshire was even more lopsided in 2008, with 57 percent male, 43 percent female.

However, CNN’s most recent national poll finds no difference between Gingrich’s support among women and men, 28 percent each. The candidate with the largest gender gap is in fact Ron Paul, at 18 percent among men and 9 percent among women. The survey also finds 6 percent of women undecided, while only 2 percent of men are.

* In Iowa, pollsters ask caucusgoers who they support before they enter, instead.

Tags: Newt Gingrich


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