Newt Gingrich routed Mitt Romney in South Carolina because he routed the media first. A Public Policy Polling survey of likely South Carolina primary voters completed on Friday revealed that 77 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of the media. Among the most conservative South Carolina primary voters, fully 89 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the media. The same poll showed Gingrich beating Romney in the primary, 37 percent to 28 percent — fairly close to the actual outcome.
Conservatives not only resent the liberal media for trying to pick the Republican nominee (n.b. the media prefer Romney) but they also resent Republican politicians who, once elected, spend their careers appeasing the media while abandoning conservative principles (n.b. the supine leadership of the Republican party in the House of Representatives). Conservatives want a president whose attitude toward the media matches the attitude Gingrich has shown in recent debates. A president with that kind of attitude, they hope, might actually govern as a conservative.
There are now three viable candidates — Rick Santorum, who won Iowa; Romney, who won New Hampshire; and Gingrich, who won South Carolina — in what could be a protracted Republican primary battle. The eventual winner may be the candidate who best persuades voters he will stand for conservative principles while standing against the establishment media.