eye of newt

100 Person Poll: What Is ‘Newt’ Short For?

Republican presidential candidate, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich speaks at a Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) town hall meeting on January 9, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Newton Gingrich. Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Earlier this month, a Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll found much confusion in the American populace over the real first name of Mitt Romney. Only 6 percent correctly picked “Willard” — and we’re pretty sure that was just a wild guess for most of them – while two percent, perhaps jokingly, went with “Mittens.” But Romney isn’t the only GOP presidential candidate this year with a somewhat mysterious first name. We speak, of course, of Newt Gingrich. Though he’s been a focus of news coverage for months now, does anyone know what “Newt” is short for? To find out, we sent two plucky interns to Union Square and 125th Street to accost 100 average men on the street. Women too.

A pretty decent number of people in our not-at-all-representative-sample, 36 out of 100, correctly answered “Newton.” Kudos to you! However, the most popular answer was “I don’t know,” which was provided by 40 survey respondents. Another 10 miserable curmudgeons answered that they “don’t care.”

That leaves another 14 people who guessed some pretty random stuff. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Newtaniel?”–Robert, 19, Union Square.
  • “Nutella. You know, like the peanut butter stuff.” —  Stephen, 30, 125th street.
  • “Neutron.” — Jenny, 34, 125th street.
  • “White guy.” —  Natasha, 22, 125th street.
  •  “Fat white boy.” — Wallace (Natasha’s boyfriend), 21, 125th street.
  • “Isn’t Newt a little salamander?  All I know is he can’t keep his wives.”–Lynvil, 24, Union Square.

Additional reporting by Abby Schreiber and Eric Sundermann