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Saturday, January 21, 2012

South Carolina Polling, Gingrich Rises To The Top

By Susan Duclos

(Join us tonight for the live blogging/live discussion as we watch and talk about entrance and exit polls and report on primary results)

This week, after two impressive debate performances, Newt Gingrich has seen a solid rise in support in the latest polls conducted in South Carolina.

One example is Rasmussen where on Tuesday, January 17, 2012, Gingrich was trailing Romney by 14 points, yet by Thursday, January 19, 2012, Rasmussen had Gingrich with a two percentage point lead on Romney.

Democratic leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) is another example where on Tuesday the 17th, they had Romney up on Gingrich by 15 percent and by Thursday the 19th, Gingrich was up by six and today, Primary day in South Carolina, Gingrich's lead has expanded to 9 points over Romney.

On Thursday, Insider Advantage had Gingrich up by three and by Friday the Clemson Palmetto Poll has Gingrich up by six percentage points.

FiveThirtyEight projects Gingrich with an 82% chance of winning, Romney at 18%, Paul and Santorum at zero percent chance.

There is no doubt that Gingrich has momentum as voters head in to cast their primary votes, but that does not guarantee a Gingrich win in South Carolina. Polling is a great way to see patterns or in this case which candidate is trending high or falling, but overall, polls are just a snapshot in time. Gingrich happens to be fortunate that this snapshot is taken the day of the primary.

Newt Gingrich has also benefited from Rick Perry dropping out of the race earlier this week and announcing his endorsement for Gingrich at the same time. That very same day MSNBC reported a host of other endorsements for Gingrich, including support from Huntsman and Perry backers.

Yesterday, another endorsement came down the pike for Gingrich, from Chuck Norris. (made big news although I am not quite sure why)

The Obama liberal media, for reasons I explained yesterday, want Mitt Romney to be the candidate to go up against Obama in 2012, so they have predictably thrown a live grenade, so to speak, into the South Carolina primary this week by publishing tidbits of an interview with Gingrich's ex-wife, where she claims Newt wanted to have an "open marriage."

ABC News' live grenade may have backfired on them though, because after news of the interview became public knowledge, Gingrich was asked about it as the first question in Thursday night's South Carolina debate and the audience there gave Gingrich two standing ovations when he ripped CNN's John King, the moderator, a new one, for asking about it at a presidential debate.

It is telling though that one of those standing ovations came when Gingrich took the media and John King to the woodshed and said "I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans."

South Carolinian's do not appear to appreciate the media trying to influence their vote.