New poll in S.C. indicates tight race for top spot
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich hold up signs on December 30, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa.
January 13th, 2012
11:28 AM ET
6 years ago

New poll in S.C. indicates tight race for top spot

(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.

Filed under: 2012 • Polls • South Carolina
soundoff (36 Responses)

    The polling sampling error more than likely is an error. Willard can't win down in TEAvangelical South Carolina. As much as I despise the woman, Sarah Palin needs to go on the stump for either Perry or Gingrich. Those loonies on the right admire her more than they do Nikki Haley.

    January 13, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Scott E Downer

    We need a Health America to much Red Tape .Romney took from the people in Mass of there rights and Liberty.with his gun laws and put people in jail for there liberty ! And what he did with his health care law he made his morels as an American a injustice for Americans .Ron Paul is for Build it in America for we have pride and no labor jobs for those that want to pay tax and not take hand outs .!

    January 13, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    It is going to be a Gingrich/Romney horse race down the SC stretch? Perfect. Pass the Milk Duds.

    January 13, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Gerald

    Would Jesus support undeclared wars, banker bailouts, exploding debt, the Patriot Act and NDAA? Ron Paul is the only consistent conservative.

    January 13, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. gg

    I loveit!..I think the attack on Romney is working.

    January 13, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Go Newt. You schooled the Fakes News clowns with your savvy explanation of the difference between vulture capitalism and regular capitalism. Now go for the jugular and demand Flippers tax returns!

    January 13, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. codyfire

    Another poll showed Gingrich slipping.... that bloated cow needs to exit; thanks for destroying our party, Newt.

    January 13, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    With in 24 hrs nearly 55000 watch “When Mitt Romney came to town” it’s paying back.

    Romney expect every thing in gold plate it won’t happen in south

    January 13, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  9. Al-NY,NY

    Is Mittens going to continue to show his thin skin by calling these ads "embarrassing?" He is thinking this is going to be a cruise to the nomination. He'll get it but it won't be easy, and it will be funny to watch him implode when the rest of America (not just the GOP) start to really pay attention

    January 13, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. Corey

    The real news here is Paul up 11 in a week! HOLY SURGE BATMAN!

    January 13, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. Woman In California

    Go Newt!

    Obama 2012

    January 13, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. gg

    yeah! Go.. Newt destroy the party of NO and do nothing.

    January 13, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    Never thought I'd see the day where democrats are rooting for, of all people, Newt Gingrich. They must be really, really scared of Romney.

    January 13, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. Jariv

    Newt 2012 !!! With Newt, the United State will be the worst. Lets elect newt, a cheater and lobbyist (even if he denies it, he did do it). Lets elect Newt as the nominee so people bill elect Obama again.

    The U.S. needs Romney. (this message approved by ME)

    January 13, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  15. SC voter

    Thanks Newt for having the cajones and caring about the USA to slap Mitt upside the head. Newt may have faults but standing aside and letting a corporate vulture like Mitt pick the bones of the middle class ain't one of'em. GO NEWT!

    January 13, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Never thought I'd see the day where Democrats are rooting for, of all people, Newt Gingrich. They must be really, really scared of Romney.
    I think Democrats are just rooting for a knock down, drag out fight that goes the distance. Newt has a bloody lip and he's quite upset about it. Folks had ganged up on him. Opportunities like this do not come along too often in the Republican Party.

    January 13, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. walt

    Wow. Ron Paul above 20% in South Carolina. The pundits must be wetting their pants.... They said he had NO chance there. But I guess they said the same thing about Iowa and NH. This is a two man race... Paul and Romney. As it should be... All the national polling vs Obama show Paul and Romney are they only two that can beat Obama in a face to face matchup. Voting for Gingrich et al would assure a loss in November.

    January 13, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |

    Never thought I'd see the day where democrats are rooting for, of all people, Newt Gingrich. They must be really, really scared of Romney.
    Scared of Willard? For what? His track record and his flip flops speak for themselves. We'd love to take on King Flip-Flop, but Newt just has way more baggage and will be alot easier to beat.

    January 13, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. Robert Fallin

    Good article. With Paul surging and Gingrich receiving such negative publicity, Paul may soon overtake Gingrich and be within the polls margin of error. If Paul wins South Carolina, he is very likely to sweep the southern "Red States," making the GOP nomination an entirely new "horse race," and finally shutting up the "Paul can't get the nomination" naysayers.

    January 13, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |

    Sorry for all you establishment types. I know its hard to change your thinking after you are brainwashed for years!! I know I was! I was calling for war with Iraq, I was calling for war with Iran, until I heard Ron Pauls message. It took me some time but after doing a lot of research on the guy I am now one of thoose DANGEROUS PAULBOTS..... Maybe Americans, regardless of what Race, Party, or whatever background you come from should look up quotes from our founding fathers and really see what this countries principles are all about.

    January 13, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  21. Fair is Fair

    "Scared of Willard? For what? His track record and his flip flops speak for themselves. We'd love to take on King Flip-Flop."
    Okie Dokie... but the polls say otherwise. Careful what you wish for, k?

    January 13, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. mittensonkittens

    Democrats are afraid of a finance whiz kid like Romney.

    January 13, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Mikey

    @Fair – "Never thought I'd see the day where democrats are rooting for, of all people, Newt Gingrich. They must be really, really scared of Romney."

    We are for anything that increases the chance that we will return the best choice to the White House. We can have a steady hand who has achieved much in the face of very difficult circumstances and opposition that cares more about partisan politics that the good of the American people... or we can elect a flip flopping chameleon and corporate raiding parasite who has no real values – he takes whatever position he thinks will serve him best at the moment.

    Romney is wrongney for America. Obama 2012.

    January 13, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. Patriot Awesome

    I hope Ron Paul gets the nomination. He's the only one out of the lot with some fresh ideas. I'm still voting for Obama, but at least the debates between Paul and Obama would be interesting.

    January 13, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. Scott G

    If nothing else, Ron Paul holds a mirror up to the Obama progressives. This president has been a warlord. He has BORROWED hundreds of billions, spiking our national debt to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now rattling swords with Iran. (Someone please tap him on the shoulder and fill him in that our foreign policy is bankrupting us to the tune of 15T+ in debt). Fact is he has outspent Bush in defense spending every year he has been in office. He is serving the interest of the military defense industrial complex, Wall Street CEOs, and his own thirst for expanding power out of Washington. He authorized the assassination of suspected terrorist who are American citizens without a trial. He authorized the use of drones that have bombed and killed innocent citizens. Ok, let’s talk foreign policy, NDAA, TARP, Guantanamo…shameful.

    January 13, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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