SC poll: Mitt Romney has small lead over Newt Gingrich

Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 10:29 PM
Last updated Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012 7:18 PM
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As the GOP presidential nomination race settles into South Carolina, Mitt Romney isn’t enjoying the double-digit lead he held in New Hampshire, according to a survey conducted Wednesday night.

The former Massachusetts governor’s lead is so small in the Palmetto State that he’s essentially tied with Newt Gingrich, according to a poll conducted for The Augusta Chronicle by InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research.

Romney’s 23 percent and Gingrich’s 21 percent fall within the 3.6 percent margin of error. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who came in second in the Iowa caucuses is in third place in South Carolina with 14 percent, while Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the runner-up in New Hampshire, is effectively tied with him at 13 percent.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has 7 percent, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry has 5 percent, while 17 percent are undecided or favor a candidate not offered as a choice in the survey.

The telephone survey questioned 726 registered voters who said they were likely to vote in the South Carolina GOP primary. Voters don’t have to be Republicans to participate in the Jan. 21 balloting, but independents generally make up a small share of the total, according to pollster Matt Towery, the president of InsiderAdvantage.

Romney, Gingrich and Paul all do equally well with the independents in the survey. Paul, though, is getting little traction from longtime Republican voters.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, does better with female voters, while men prefer former House Speaker Gingrich.

“This is not good news for Mitt Romney,” said Towery, who chaired several of Gingrich’s congressional campaigns before becoming a nonpartisan pollster. “There is no other way to put it. This means it is a dead-even race. South Carolinians couldn’t care less about New Hampshire or Iowa.”

Romney, on his second try for the nomination, won the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary this month, the first nonincumbent Republican to do so. However, those back-to-back wins don’t seem to be giving him overwhelming momentum this far south.

Gingrich represented the western part of neighboring Georgia for 20 years in Congress and apparently knows how to appeal to Southern voters, who tend to be more concerned about social issues than those in New Hampshire.

The South Carolina primary is regarded as the first meaningful contest because of what the results will signal for the party’s chances of defeating President Obama in November. Of course, it’s also stoking anticipation because of the legendary ruthlessness of the state’s political operatives.

Republicans in South Carolina like to remind people that their primary picks presidents, or at least presidential nominees. Since 1980, when Ronald Reagan won 55 percent of the vote, no candidate has captured the Republican nomination for president without notching a win in South Carolina’s GOP primary. In the 2008 election, eventual nominee John McCain won the South Carolina primary with more than 30 percent of the vote, trailed by Iowa winner Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson. Romney came in fourth in South Carolina with about 15 percent.

This time, the results will be dramatically different, as the state’s active evangelical voting bloc is expected to set aside prejudice in favor of pragmatism. Support among evangelicals’ ranks may signal that they accept Romney, a Mormon, in part for being the candidate largely believed to offer the toughest challenge to Obama.

Since Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, where Romney steamrolled his rivals with nearly 40 percent of the vote, the candidates have swarmed the Palmetto State. They are stumping at barbecue joints, pharmacies, universities and local government buildings. On Monday, the candidates are scheduled to participate in a debate in Myrtle Beach, hosted by the South Carolina Republican Party, Fox News Channel, The Wall Street Journal and Twitter.

Some see the Palmetto State as the last chance to justify staying in the race.

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Dixieman
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Dixieman 01/12/12 - 06:14 am
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Time for Newt to shut up and

Time for Newt to shut up and all the others to withdraw. They are just helping Obama with all these attacks on Romney who, it is now clear, will be the nominee. Newt will never be able to run for anything again.

robaroo
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robaroo 01/12/12 - 06:49 am
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Nightmare scenario for

Nightmare scenario for independents - Obama vs Gingrich

Chillen
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Chillen 01/12/12 - 09:24 am
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Think carefully South

Think carefully South Carolina. Vote only for a TRUE fiscal conservative, not a moderate conservative.

The time is NOW to fix our nation. Some republican candidates will help stop the imminent obama train derailment but they will not fix it, only slow it down.

Romney is only ahead because the fiscal conservative vote is being split between some of the other candidates. Once a few of them drop out, it should get real interesting for him.

nanowerx
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nanowerx 01/12/12 - 09:50 am
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Come on Carolina, don't let

Come on Carolina, don't let us down. Ron Paul is the only candidate who has done nothing but go up in the polls while everybody else fluctuates. The media knows that he is a threat to the status-quo and will do whatever it takes to stop him from being President and ending the middle-eastern and drug wars, which finance the defense contractors and banks.

New Hampshire and Iowa showed that even with a smear campaign by the mainstream media, his message of personal liberty and and killing inflation has still managed to come through to a surprising amount of people, especially the 50% of voters under 30 who voted for him in those two states.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 01/12/12 - 09:53 am
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You know, South Carolina (and

You know, South Carolina (and particularly Aiken) used to have one of the more active Libertarian Party affiliates in the nation, and certainly in the southeast. I haven't heard much out of them lately, though.

Little Lamb
49138
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Little Lamb 01/12/12 - 09:56 am
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Up above, Robaroo is

Up above, Robaroo is absolutely correct; a race between Obama and Gingrich would be terrible. I can not in good conscience vote for Gingrich for president. I will proudly vote Libertarian Party if Gingrich is the Republican Party nominee.

nanowerx
1406
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nanowerx 01/12/12 - 10:04 am
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@ Little Lamb. If Paul wins

@ Little Lamb. If Paul wins the nomination, Gary Johnson said he would drop out of the race from the Libertarian ticket and put his support behind Paul. Which could mean a Paul/Johnson 2012 ticket....a Libertarians wet dream!

Little Lamb
49138
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Little Lamb 01/12/12 - 10:13 am
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I like Paul's political

I like Paul's political philosophy and his ideas. But if he somehow got put on the Libertarian Party ticket at the top, I would be in a real dilemma. I have a principle never to vote for a septuagenarian for president. I would be happy to vote Libertarian with Paul as VP.

TGrade1
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TGrade1 01/12/12 - 06:06 pm
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Here is the way I see it.
Unpublished

Here is the way I see it. Congress controls the purse. The person in charge last time the budget was balanced? Newt Gingrich. The man who authored the Contract with America? Newt Gingrich. The man who led Republicans to a majority after 40 years of Democrat rule? Newt Gingrich. The man who has command of the big picture and the minutae of pretty much every topic and therefore will shred Obama in a debate? Newt Gingrich. Now let's look at Mitt Romney. He can't argue against Obamacare because of Romneycare. He will be painted as the $250,000,000 man who made his money wrecking companies and leaving a trail of broken lives in his wake. He ran for governor on an anti abortion platform then appointed Planned Parenthood people to his administration but no pro life people. He signed Romneycare, which provides for taxpayer funded abortions. Obama will also show the picture of Romney with his Bain buddies where they have $100 bills sticking out of their sleeves, etc., everywhere, as well as his five houses and he will ask the average American, "Does this man have your interests at heart?" The answer will be "no" and Obama will will win. I'll take Gingrich over Romney any day if the object is to beat Obama.

James Clifton
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James Clifton 01/12/12 - 09:56 pm
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I do not understand why NO

I do not understand why NO ONE, including Governor Romney, challenges Newt on his referring to Romney as a "Massachusetts Moderate" when Gingrich was a "Rockefeller Republican" supporting him for President in 1964 and 1968 serving as his State Chair and Southern Regional Coordinator, respectively. See Wikipedia and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJQsLFhuyOY

jjguzzardo
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jjguzzardo 01/12/12 - 11:23 pm
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The reason no one challenges

The reason no one challenges Newt on being a "Rockefeller Republican" in 1964-1968 is because it's totally irrelevant. That was over 40 years ago while Romney has been a "Massachusetts Moderate" up until very recently. Ronald Reagan was a democrat in the 50's and didn't switch to the republican party until 1962 and he is largely considered to be a conservative icon.

The issue with Romney is that he has no track record of being a conservative at all other than the speeches he's given lately. He's saying all the right things now because he learned from his last run that you have to sound conservative to win and that's exactly what he's trying to do...sound conservative but he is far from actually being conservative. There is no conservative voting record or action that you can point to, all we have are words. This is the same strategy Obama used to get elected. Sound like you're a moderate to get elected and then govern like a socialist once you're in office. We shouldn't fall for that same trap when it comes to Romney. Your past actions speak much louder than you current words. Romney is not a conservative, he's John McCain 2.0.

Newt Gingrich has over a 30 year history of fighting for conservative causes. He was the author of the "Contract with America" and was able to get most of it passed with a democratic president. He authored the first republican take over of the house in 40 years, balanced the budget, is pro-life, pro-faith, pro-capitalism/freemarket and he has been supporting these causes for 30+ years, not just the last two years like Romney.

wodiej
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wodiej 01/13/12 - 05:36 am
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It is amazing that anyone
Unpublished

It is amazing that anyone would consider Romney at all for the GOP ticket. This man is not nor ever has been a conservative. He's a moderate left leaning candidate who got nominated Governor in a liberal state. He was not even that great of a Governor. His approval rating was poor when he decided not to run for a 2nd term.

He's a CEO-that does not make him presidential. He's ran twice for president and both times he has failed to win over the majority of voters. The only reason he is ahead is because he spent over $7 million in negative advertising on Gingrich in Iowa and NH. These two states are left leaning and have open primaries. You can be sure lots of Democrats jumped in there for those.

Gingrich is the only one of these people who has an inkling of national success. He has an overall 90% conservative rating. Half of his campaign contributions are small from us little people. Compare that to Romney's 10%. He is being funded by Wall St. Gingrich facilitated the conservative takeover of Congress for the 1st time in 40 years. He was the leader in passing welfare reform, balancing the budget 4 years in a row and rolling back tax rates which increased tax revenue, not lost it. A wise conservative would know these things. If you don't either you are very naive or not a conservative.

Little Lamb
49138
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Little Lamb 01/13/12 - 09:16 am
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You have a choice, wodiej.

You have a choice, wodiej. If you don't like Romney, then vote for Obama.

jjguzzardo
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jjguzzardo 01/13/12 - 11:20 pm
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There's no difference between

There's no difference between voting for Obama and voting for Romney. Romney supported the government bailout, abortion, Romney care with an individual mandate...the list goes on. Sure, now he's talking all conservative to win an election but his voting record and actions while in office are no different than Obama. Don't be fooled by Romney's words, look at his record.

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