WASHINGTON – Support for Newt Gingrich is soaring as South Carolina votes in its Republican presidential primary, according to a new poll Saturday that shows him with a commanding lead over longtime frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Former House speaker Gingrich has the support of 40 per cent of likely Republican voters in the state’s primary, compared to 26 per cent for Romney, the American Research Group reported in its poll released as voters trudged to the polls in the southern US state.
“Gingrich has gained seven percentage points since the survey conducted January 17-18 and Romney has lost six percentage points since that survey,” ARG said in a statement.
Veteran Representative Ron Paul was third with 18 per cent while former senator Rick Santorum won 13 per cent support.
The latest poll was conducted Thursday and Friday, a period widely considered to be the most tumultuous in the 2012 nominating campaign that decides which Republican will face off against President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.
Romney, long considered the odds-on favorite to win the nomination, suffered a double blow Thursday; Texas Governor Rick Perry dropped out of the race and endorsed Gingrich, while Iowa revoked his razor-thin victory in the first-in-the-nation caucuses and declared Santorum the winner there.
The ARG figures seem to solidify the polling trend of the past week, which show Gingrich with a growing lead in South Carolina and narrowing the lead which Romney holds nationwide.