Bad news day for Romney today.
Two polls released today show the Newt Gingrich second surge in full swing as he edges Mitt Romney out of first place in South Carolina polling.
Public Policy Polling (PPP) has Gingrich ahead of Romney by 34 percent to 28 percent.
Newt Gingrich led Mitt Romney 34-28 in PPP's South Carolina polling last night, the first of what will be three nights of tracking. Ron Paul at 15%, Rick Santorum at 14%, Rick Perry at 5%, and Buddy Roemer at 3% round out the field.
This is not a case of Romney imploding. His support has been pretty steady in the 28-30% range in our South Carolina polling so far. But Gingrich has risen from 23% to 34% over the last two weeks, benefiting from declining support for Santorum and also from undecided voters moving into his camp.
It's clear that the debate Monday night did a lot to help Gingrich's prospects in the state. 56% of voters say they watched it, and with those folks Gingrich's lead over Romney is 43-27. Romney still has a 29-22 advantage on Gingrich with those who didn't tune in.
Rasmussen, using likely GOP primary voters in their sample, has Gingrich ahead of Romney by two points, yet two days ago, before the South Carolina debate which earned Gingrich the first standing ovation at any debate, Romney held the lead by 14 percentage points.
None of these reflect the major news today of Rick Perry dropping out of the GOP presidential race this morning and endorsing Newt Gingrich. Nor do they reflect the fact that the Iowa caucus certified results are in and Santorum took Iowa by 24 votes.
Full Gingrich statement on Perry's endorsement can be found HERE.