South Carolina Poll: Gingrich 32, Romney 26

Erika Johnsen

1/20/2012 6:53:00 PM - Erika Johnsen

After Monday night's debate performance, it appears that some South Carolinian Republicans are increasingly pleased with Newt Gingrich, as his numbers there have been steadily ticking upwards. According to a new poll from Clemson University, Gingrich is sittin' pretty with the vote of 32% of those polled, while Mitt Romney (who has the endorsement of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, by the way) trails with 26% of the vote:

“We expect a reaction by the electorate to the personal revelations about Gingrich to be registered on Saturday, however, we do not think it will be substantial enough to erase the lead Gingrich has over Romney,” said Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard. 

“Our head-to-head matchup of the candidates has consistently shown Mitt Romney competitive. The margin for Romney has evaporated this week, and we believe that Gingrich — who led our December poll with 38 percent to Romney’s 21 percent — will win the South Carolina primary,” he said.      

Among poll respondents who had chosen or were leaning toward a candidate, this third Palmetto Poll showed Newt Gingrich (32 percent) leading the field over Mitt Romney (26 percent), up slightly from a month ago. Ron Paul came in third (11 percent), about even with his December poll rating. Rick Santorum remained in fourth place (9 percent), despite a significant jump over his ranking last month.

After choosing a candidate, respondents gave a wide variety of answers as to what they liked most about the person they selected, but the two most popular appeared to be: “he has honesty and integrity” and “his overall political ideology” — meaning conservative principles. 

“Much has been made of the ‘electability’ issue of the candidates, but in our poll the response: ‘He has the best chance of beating President Barack Obama,’” was the fourth choice of voters, after “‘He has better ideas for strengthening the economy,’” said Clemson political scientist Bruce Ransom.

Iiiiinteresting. Granted, this is only one poll, but the general polling consensus does seem to be trending in Newt's direction -- I think tomorrow could be anybody's game! (Except for, you know... Santorum's or Paul's.)