Poll shows conservatives, religious voters rallied behind Gingrich

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WASHINGTON — Strong backing from conservative and religious voters and people fretting about the uncertain economy fueled Newt Gingrich’s victory Saturday in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, an exit poll of voters showed Saturday.

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The figures also showed that for the first time, the former House speaker had grabbed two constituencies that his chief rival, Mitt Romney, prided himself in winning in the year’s two previous GOP contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. By a decisive 5 to 4 margin, Gingrich bested Romney among voters looking for someone to defeat President Barack Obama this November, and he led Romney by nearly as much among those who considered the economy the top issue.

Gingrich benefited most from the campaign’s final, tumultuous week, the figures showed.

Just over half said they’d chosen a candidate in the last few days, and they backed Gingrich over Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, by 2-1. By a slightly stronger margin, the roughly two-thirds who said campaign debates were an important factor also supported Gingrich. There were two GOP debates in South Carolina during the past week.

In the last days of the campaign, Romney stumbled badly when asked repeatedly whether he will release his income tax returns. Gingrich endured an allegation by one of his two former wives, Marianne, that he had asked permission for an open marriage while he was having an affair with the woman who is his current wife, Callista. That accusation seemed to take only a slight toll on Gingrich.

He got less than 10 percent support from people who said what they most wanted in a candidate was strong moral character, but these voters were less than 1 in 5 of those who showed up Saturday at the polls. And Gingrich did slightly better than Romney among women and polled a bit more strongly among married than unmarried females.

Gingrich won healthy margins among the state’s conservatives, who comprise more than 6 in 10 voters in the state, one of the country’s reddest. While those results were bad news for Romney, they were even more damaging to Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who has been dueling with Gingrich to become the GOP’s conservative champion and alternative to Romney.

Gingrich won among conservatives and tea party supporters by nearly 2-1 over Romney. Santorum was slightly behind.

Nearly two-thirds of voters Saturday said they are born again or evangelical Christians, and they backed Gingrich over Romney by 2-1 also.

More telling, 6 in 10 voters said it was important that their candidate share their religious beliefs. Nearly half of such voters backed Gingrich, while only around 1 in 5 chose Romney or Santorum.

About 8 in 10 voters said they were very worried about the direction of the country’s economy, and they picked Gingrich over Romney by about a 4-3 edge.

South Carolina’s unemployment rate of 9.9 percent is worse than the national average, and the exit poll provided evidence of the state’s economic pain. About 3 in 10 said someone in their household has lost a job in the past three years. And about 1 in 5 said they are falling behind financially – about double the proportion who said so in exit polling in the state’s 2008 GOP presidential primary.

Romney’s earlier career heading Bain Capital, a venture capital firm, clearly wounded his prospects. During much of the campaign, Gingrich and others accused Romney and his company of killing jobs in the companies they bought and restructured.

Those blows showed on Saturday. According to the exit polls, Gingrich and Romney broke about even among the 6 in 10 voters who said they had a positive view of Romney’s activities at Bain. But among those who viewed Romney’s work negatively, half picked Gingrich and almost none backed Romney.

Underscoring how poorly Romney fared in South Carolina, only about 4 in 10 voters Saturday said they could enthusiastically back Romney should he eventually win the GOP nomination.

Romney’s defeat was so sweeping that he lost to Gingrich among voters of every age. The only income group that Romney won was people making above $200,000 a year – 1 in 20 of those who voted Saturday.

The exit poll also showed that around two-thirds of voters approve of the job Nikki Haley is doing as governor, a job she won with strong tea party support. Haley endorsed Romney but 7 in 10 tea party backers gave her high marks anyway.

The survey was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research as voters left their polling places at 35 randomly selected sites in South Carolina. The survey involved interviews with 2,381 voters and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Saturday that she’ll continue to campaign for Mitt Romney despite placing a losing bet on him in her state’s primary.

“I still believe Gov. Romney is the right candidate,” Haley said. “What this did today was just ensure that this is going to be a long race going forward. But I’ll continue to be supportive, the way I always have.”

Haley said campaigning will have to fit in with her schedule as she works to get things done in the Legislature. “He’s always respected that.”

Exit polls showed around two-thirds of voters approve of the job Nikki Haley is doing as governor, a job she won with strong tea party support. Many of its top activists were bewildered by Haley backing Romney.

“I strongly still believe that Mitt Romney will be the nominee at the end of the day – I strongly believe that with everything I’ve got – but should it be someone else, I will get behind that person,” Haley said.

– Associated Press

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juantez 01/23/12 - 12:22 am
"I think Gingrich has

"I think Gingrich has embarrassed the party over time"
"He was run out of the speakership by his own party.
"He was fined $300,000 for ethics violations."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

1. “I’m not a natural leader. I’m too intellectual; I’m too abstract; I think too much.”
~Newt Gingrich, admitting that he’s an intellectual elite incapable of leading.

2. “If the Soviet empire still existed, I’d be terrified. The fact is, we can afford a fairly ignorant presidency now.”
~Newt Gingrich, saying that it’s okay for the President to be ignorant.

3. “The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.”
~Newt Gingrich, arguing that it’s okay for politicians to be bought and paid for.

4. “Give the park police more ammo.” ~Newt Gingrich, responding to a reporter who asked what to do about the homeless a few days after the police shot a homeless man in front of the White House.

5. “The problem isn’t too little money in political campaigns, but not enough.”
~Newt Gingrich on campaign finance reform.

6. “I have enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I’m doing it. I am now a famous person. I represent real power.”
~Newt Gingrich, blowing his own horn.

7. “Gingrich – Primary mission, Advocate of civilization, Definer of civilization, Teacher of the rules of civilization, Leader of the civilizing forces.”
~ Newt Gingrich, blowing his own horn.

8. “The most serious, systematic revolutionary of modern times.”
~Newt Gingrich, blowing his own horn.

9. “It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”
~Newt Gingrich, saying we should do as he says, regardless of what he actually does.

10. “This is one of the great tragedies of the Bush administration. The more successful they’ve been at intercepting and stopping bad guys, the less proof there is that we’re in danger…. It’s almost like they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us.”
~Newt Gingrich, at a book talk in Huntington, NY, April 2008, saying that Republicans should allow terrorist attacks on American soil to remind us of the dangers in the world.

11. “Now, we don’t get rid of it in round one because we don’t think that that’s politically smart, and we don’t think that’s the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it’s going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it — voluntarily.”
~Newt Gingrich, admitting that while they won’t kill Medicare outright, Republicans will try to make it wither on the vine and die.

12. “She isn’t young enough or pretty enough to be the President’s wife.”
~Newt Gingrich, talking about his first wife after divorcing her.

13. “I read Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them and I found frightening pieces that related to…my own life.”
~Newt Gingrich, talking about his problems with women.

14. “It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in child laws which are truly stupid…These schools should get rid of unionized janitors, have one master janitor, pay local students to take care of the school.”
~Newt Gingrich, advocating for an end to child labor laws so businesses can fire union workers and replace them with cheap labor.

15. “We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.”
~Newt Gingrich. Two years later, Gingrich unveils a new Spanish-language website, The Americano.

16. “The left-wing Democrats will represent the party of total hedonism, total exhibitionism, total bizarreness, total weirdness, and the total right to cripple innocent people in the name of letting hooligans loose.”
~Newt Gingrich, smearing Democrats when in fact it’s Republicans who want to cripple innocent people. Remember when they cheered for letting a man without health insurance die? And speaking of exhibitionism and bizarreness, have you seen the Republican Presidential field?

17. “These people are sick. They are so consumed by their own power, by a Mussolini-like ego, that their willingness to run over normal human beings and to destroy honest institutions is unending.”
~Newt Gingrich, once again smearing Democrats, but telling the complete truth about himself and the GOP. Republicans want to kill Medicare and Social Security, the EPA, and several other honest institutions that serve normal human beings. Speaking of running over normal human beings, remember when Republicans cheered for letting a man without health insurance die?

18. “I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words.”
~Newt Gingrich, advocating for hateful rhetoric and smearing opponents with lies

juantez 01/23/12 - 12:28 am
Who Is Saul Alinsky And Why

Who Is Saul Alinsky And Why Does Newt Gingrich Fear Him


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