Clemson University is reporting the results of a poll that shows Gingrich up by six points over Romney in South Carolina. This tends to confirm suspicions that Gingrich may have stabilized despite attacks with a solidifying lead because Romney admitted earlier on Friday that Gingrich would win some primaries. Clemson’s Palmetto Poll evaluated the impact the revelations about Gingrich might have on the election outcome, but they still draw the same conclusions as in December, although it has closed:
“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 Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard.
“Our head-to-head matchup of the candidates has consistently shown Mitt Romney competitive. The margin for Romney has evaporated this week, and we believe that Gingrich — who led our December poll with 38 percent to Romney’s 21 percent — will win the South Carolina primary,” he said.
In the newest poll, Gingrich had slipped to 32%, and Romney had climbed to 26%, meaning the race is tighter than a month ago, but considering the full-court press of negative advertising Romney had done throughout December, and has continued in New Hampshire and South Carolina, it’s not really surprising that this race has tightened, but the effect of the re-aired story of Gingrich’s second wife’s allegations surely had some effect. The Clemson poll showed respondents to this poll had the following priorities in choosing their candidates.
“After choosing a candidate, respondents gave a wide variety of answers as to what they liked most about the person they selected, but the two most popular appeared to be: “he has honesty and integrity” and “his overall political ideology” — meaning conservative principles.
“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, after “‘He has better ideas for strengthening the economy,’” said Clemson political scientist Bruce Ransom.”
Saturday should be an interesting match-up, and Gingrich’s performance in Thursday night’s debate almost certainly helped him, while Romney’s performance was rather flat, and his meandering explanation of why he hasn’t released his tax returns is sure to take a toll on his support in the Palmetto state.