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Propelled by Tea Party, Gingrich Takes Lead in South Carolina

4:01 PM, Jan 19, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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The latest Rasmussen poll from South Carolina shows a 16-point swing between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich over the span of two days.  In Rasmussen’s polling taken on Monday, before the most recent GOP presidential debate, Romney led Gingrich by 14 percentage points — 35 to 21 percent.  Rasmussen’s latest polling, taken yesterday, shows Gingrich leading Romney by 2 percentage points — 33 to 31 percent. 

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Gingrich leads largely on the basis of a 2-to-1 advantage (42 to 21 percent) over Romney among Tea Party voters, up from a 3-point advantage (30 to 27 percent) among such voters two days earlier.  Romney continues to lead Gingrich among non-Tea Party voters, but his advantage among such voters has dropped from 20 points on Monday (37 to 17 percent) to 7 points in the current poll (36 to 29 percent).

Rick Santorum, the recently declared winner of the Iowa caucuses, has 11 percent support.  Ron Paul is slightly ahead of Santorum, with 15 percent support — 12 percent among Republicans and 22 percent among independents.  (South Carolina has an open primary.)  The poll also shows Rick Perry, who earlier today bowed out and endorsed Gingrich, with 2 percent support.

Gingrich’s net favorability rating has noticeably improved, from +14 percent (55 to 41 percent) to +30 percent (64 to 34 percent), while all of the other candidates’ net favorability ratings have dropped — Romney’s from +40 (68 to 28 percent) to +34 (66 to 32 percent), Santorum’s from +33 (64 to 31 percent) to +22 (58 to 36 percent), and Paul’s from minus-6 (45 to 51 percent) to minus-16 (40 to 56 percent).

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