(CNN) - With eight days to go until the South Carolina primary, a new poll suggests a close contest in the first southern state to vote in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
According to an American Research Group survey released Friday morning, 29% of likely Palmetto State GOP primary voters say they're backing Mitt Romney, with 25% supporting former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Romney's four-point margin over Gingrich is within the poll's sampling error.
The survey indicates Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 20%, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 9%, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 7%, and former Utah Gov. and former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman at 1%, with 7% undecided.
The poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, after Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, won nearly 40% of the vote in New Hampshire, with Paul, the longtime congressman who's making his third bid for the White House, finishing a strong second.
Paul has surged 11 points and Santorum has dropped 17 points since ARG's last survey in South Carolina, which was conducted after Iowa's January 3 caucuses and before New Hampshire's primary. Perry has jumped 7 points since the earlier survey, with Gingrich inching up two points and Romney losing two points. Romney edged out Santorum by eight votes to win Iowa's caucuses. Paul came in third place.
The survey indicates Gingrich with 28% support among likely primary voters who say they are supporters of the tea party movement, with Romney at 24%, Paul at 20% and Santorum at 11%. Romney has a ten-point lead over Gingrich and the rest of the field among those who say they are not supporters of the tea party.
According to the poll, Gingrich has the backing of 40% of self described evangelical Christians, with Perry at 15%, Romney at 13%, Santorum at 12% and Paul at 10%. Romney is in the lead, at 48%, among those who say they are not evangelical Christians, with Paul at 33%, and everyone else in single digits.
The American Research Group poll was conducted between January 11 and January 12, with 600 likely South Carolina GOP primary voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.