There has been plenty of griping and talk by Tea Partiers that if Romney is the nominee, they’re staying home in November.

I don’t believe it for a second.  When push comes to shove, they will not choose four more years of Obama.

But I do believe that many conservatives and libertarians who hate Newt Gingrich will stay home, because their feelings are expressed in intensely personal, not just political, ways.

I’ve predicted that many in the conservative media and political establishment have so boxed themselves into the “Newt is crazy” or evil or morally bankrupt corner that they will be left with no face-saving way out:

I really don’t see how the Romney supporters using the strategy of crazy have left themselves an exit strategy if and when their candidate loses to Gingrich.  If they have convinced themselves that Newt really is crazy, then there is no way they could support him even over Obama.

We’re beginning to see the drip, drip of people coming out and saying they’d prefer Obama over Newt.  David Frum has threatened to leave the party.  Glenn Beck says he’ll support Ron Paul as a third party candidate.  James Joyner says he’d be “hard pressed” to vote for Newt over Obama because Newt is not morally fit.

Expect more.

Jed Babbin has a good column about the collective conservative punditry reaction to Newt:

Gingrich’s staying power has the Washington cognoscenti frustrated. When the Romney campaign launched its attacks on Gingrich, there was a flood of seemingly coordinated press promoting the attacks.

Jonah Goldberg also has an interesting column today in which he explains the visceral hatred of Newt and how it overwhelms “establishment” conservatives:

“How do we stop Newt?”

I’ve now been asked that question by a lot of conservatives.  It’s not that I’m the go-to guy for that sort of question. Rather, one gets the sense that many “establishment” conservatives are asking everybody that question
— in staff meetings, at the chiropodist, even at the McDonald’s drive-through….

As to whether he can beat Obama, opinions vary. But many feel that a Gingrich victory might be scarier than a GOP defeat.

Goldberg does not predict that the Newt-haters will stay home, but I do.

In fact, I predict they will do worse, trying to undermine Newt in a general election so that they can proclaim “I told you so.”