Analysis

Why Fox News viewers don't like Mitt Romney: 4 theories

Iowa Republicans are already partial to Gingrich, but Hawkeye State conservatives who get their news from Fox are especially likely to favor Newt over Mitt

A new CBS/New York Times poll found that nearly 40 percent of Iowa Republicans get most of their updates on current events from Fox News. Among those voters, Newt Gingrich is beating Mitt Romney by a mile. Almost 50 percent of the Fox viewers say they would vote for Gingrich if the Iowa caucuses were held today, while only 12 percent would back Romney. Why the big gap? Here, four theories:

1. Gingrich used to work at FoxIt helps that Newt was "on the Fox payroll," says Prairie Weather. Gingrich only signed off as a well-paid "contributor" when he entered the presidential race, so he's fresh on the minds of Fox's viewers and hosts. That makes him "a made man in the Fox family," while Romney is the outsider trying to push Fox's guy aside.

2. Gingrich loves granting Fox interviews, Romney doesn'tThe "Fox News effect" comes down to simple math, says Libby Spencer at The Impolitic. Gingrich has made 52 appearances on the network since entering the race. Herman Cain, another favorite until his recent flurry of sex scandals, was interviewed on Fox 63 times. That Fox love helped Cain do well "until his transgressions were too large for even Fox to spin away." Mitt, on the other hand, was essentially a stranger to Fox until he recently expressed "new interest in deigning to be interviewed there."

3. Romney dropped the ball"Mitt Romney has done a great job of nailing down support from wealthy donors," says Jed Lewison at Daily Kos, "and he's got a virtual monopoly on support from the GOP establishment." But he seems to have overlooked the need to "reach the people who actually vote." Fox is a ready-made megaphone for Republican leaders like him. "The question is: Will he be able to take advantage of it?"

4. It's the debates, stupidFox viewers' preference for Gingrich might be connected to another factor fueling his popularity, says Don Surber at the Charleston, W.V., Daily News. Seven in 10 of the Republicans polled — a crowd that obviously includes many Fox viewers — had watched some of the recent televised showdowns among the GOP candidates. "This shows the power of the televised debates," in which Gingrich has really shined. 

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