By: Edmund Jenks – West Coast Editor
After a ton of debates over about an eight month period, and two spirited debates in South Carolina, Republicans get their first real pure test as to who they would like to see replace Barack Obama as the leader of the free world, oh, and the president of the United States.
The two warm-up acts, the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary had an element to them which have both voting processes tainted by being loose as it relates to who could sign up to vote (in Iowa, one may not even live in the state) or which political party affiliation one happened to be representing in order to vote.
South Carolina wants registered Republicans to vote in the Republican primary for president, or any other office for that matter. Good, clean, and clear democratic politics.
It turns out that the candidate that has the most money, and the backing of the Republican professional politician elite (the string pullers) has the most to lose here in the Palmetto Pick because, as it turns out, Gov. Mitt Romney did not win the Iowa Caucuses by eight votes over Sen, Rick Santorum, but lost to Rick Santorum by about 34 votes with a total of around 120,000 votes being cast. That is one win for Senator Rick Santorum.
In New Hampshire, where registered Democrat Political Party voters can openly go to the polls and vote for a Republican in a Republican Political Party primary, Governor Mitt Romney won by 39% of the vote over Congressman Ron Paul who got about 23% of the vote (this will be the best that this Libertarian purist Republican will post – he usually is stuck at around 16% – the rest of the primaries due to a Democrat crossover vote). Mitt Romney expected to win in the low 40 percentile range because he is very moderate and he was the elected Governor of a neighboring liberal/progressive state, Massachusetts.
So now we come to South Carolina, the Palmetto State, where the politics are big “C” Conservative, a little big “C” Christian, and always big “C” Contentious!
This vote was presumed to be able to be won by the candidate supported by the Republican Party elite as it was four years ago with John McCain … the man who lost to Barack Obama and now currently endorses … Mitt Romney. If Mitt Romney were to win, and win decisively, the rest of the primaries would probably end up going for Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee.
The two debates in South Carolina, however, have pointed out a weakness in Mitt Romney’s ability to respond to pointed and tough questions … not by the press who have run the debates, but by the other candidates on politically conservative positions. This has exposed Mitt and may have moved him out from the presumptive front-runner position.
The latest polling shows just this trend.
This excerpted and edited from Public Policy Polling –
Newt expands South Carolina lead
January 20, 2012
Newt Gingrich heads into South Carolina election day as the clear front runner in the state: he’s now polling at 37% to 28% for Mitt Romney, 16% for Rick Santorum, and 14% for Ron Paul.
Gingrich’s lead has actually increased in the wake of his ex-wife’s controversial interview with ABC. Although one night poll results should always be interpreted with caution, he led the final night of the field period by a 40-26 margin. One thing that continues to work to his advantage are the debates. 60% of primary voters report having watched the one last night, and Gingrich has a 46-23 lead with those folks.
The other reason his ex-wife’s interview isn’t causing him much trouble is that there’s a lot of skepticism about it. Only 31% of voters say they think her accusations are true while 35% think they are false and 34% are unsure. 51% of voters say that they have ‘no concerns’ about what came out in the interview.
The skepticism of Republican voters toward the media is helping Gingrich as well. Just 14% of likely voters have a generally favorable opinion of the media, while 77% view it negatively. Gingrich’s attacks on the media have clearly played well with the party base.
Gingrich is leading with pretty much every key segment of the Republican electorate. He’s up 41-21 on Romney and Santorum with Evangelicals, he has a 52-18 advantage on Romney with Tea Partiers, he leads Santorum 44-21 with ‘very conservative’ voters with Romney at 20%, and he’s up 39-26 with men.
In the final week of the campaign Gingrich rose from 24% to 37% in PPP’s polling while Romney basically stayed in place, going from 29% to 28%. Romney saw a 15 point decline in his net favorability in the closing stretch from +24 (57/33) to just +9 (51/42). Gingrich saw a modest increase in his numbers over the final week from +14 (51/37) to +17 (54/37).
Mark Blumenthal’s piece today for Huffington Post about ‘expecting the unexpected’ tomorrow is well worth a read. Gingrich will probably win tomorrow- but there’s a higher than normal chance for a surprise given everything that’s gone down in the last 48 hours.
Other interesting developments that are of note come in the area of endorsements. Michael Reagan, the nationally syndicated radio talk show host (5 million listeners) and adopted son of Ronald Reagan, came out with an unqualified endorsement of Newt.
Michael Reagan said in a statement released Friday afternoon that Gingrich “exemplifies the conservative principles my father championed.”
Reagan urged “fellow Republicans and conservatives” to vote for Gingrich, citing the contrast between Gingrich’s Reagan conservatism and President Obama’s “European style” socialism.
“We cannot afford a candidate backed by the same Washington insiders who repeatedly tried to undermine my father and the Reagan revolution,” he added.
This is pretty serious … much more serious than Sarah Palin’s “If I were a person voting in South Carolina …” endorsement of Newt.
The Palmetto Pick Is …
POLLS Close In South Carolina – FOXNews projects Newt Gingrich with strong support from all voting demographics including independents, evangelicals, and … married women!
This is a slam to the established “ruling class” Republican elites and moderates who think that a Republican needs to be measured in his or her support of core Conservative values of self-reliance, right-to-work, and smaller Government.
Most Telling Takeaway:
How do you feel about the Tea Party movement?
Total Paul| Gingrich | Romney | Santorum
64% 12% 45% 25% 17%
27% 15% 35% 30% 18%
8% 21% 19% 32% 13%
– Article first seen as The SCGOP Palmetto Pick Begins … And Ends at Technorati –