Clemson Poll: Gingrich Leads Romney in South Carolina

Gingrich leading the pack in South Carolina.


It's Newt's race to lose in South Carolina, according to a Clemson University poll released Friday.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is leading former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 32 percent to 26 percent, according to the survey started on Jan. 13 but "recalibrated" on Jan. 18 and 19 to "measure changing dynamics," according to a Clemson release.

[Read: Gingrich, Perry, Santorum News Rocks GOP Race.]

"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 Dave Woodard, a political science professor at Clemson, in a release.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul was third in the polling, garnering 11 percent support, with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in fourth place with 9 percent.

Gingrich's second ex-wife alleged he requested an open marriage with her before ultimately requesting a divorce. It's a charge he denied in Thursday night's GOP debate.

The real story of how the race will end up when voters take to the polls Saturday lies with the 20 percent of voters who remain undecided, according to the poll.

[Check out photos of the 2012 GOP race.]

The top two reasons voters gave for selecting their favored candidate was "he has honesty and integrity" and "his overall political ideology."

"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,'" said Clemson political scientist Bruce Ransom.

The Palmetto poll surveyed 429 GOP voters in South Carolina and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

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