Romney opens 21-point lead in South Carolina: Reuters/Ipsos poll

WASHINGTON Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:45pm EST

1 of 7. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (L) speaks as his wife Ann Romney (R) watches during a campaign stop at the American Legion Post in Sumpter, South Carolina, January 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has opened a wide lead over his rivals in the South Carolina primary election race, trouncing Newt Gingrich and gaining momentum in his march toward the party's nomination, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, could all but quash his rivals' presidential aspirations with a victory in South Carolina on January 21 after winning the first state-by-state nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Voters in South Carolina - who have favored Republicans in nine of the last 10 presidential elections - appear to have shrugged off attacks on Romney by rivals who accuse him of killing jobs as a private equity executive for Bain Capital in the 1990s.

The poll showed 37 percent of South Carolina Republican voters back Romney. Congressman Ron Paul and former Senator Rick Santorum tied for second place with 16 percent support.

Gingrich, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, has fallen far back after holding a strong lead in South Carolina in December. He was in fourth place at 12 percent in the Reuters/Ipsos poll.

"In primary races things can change quickly but it does look like Romney is in position to win South Carolina, and if he wins ... that's sort of the end of the road for most of his challengers," Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson said.


Romney is clearly winning a feud with Gingrich that began in December before the Iowa caucuses and has become the most bitter fight in the selection of a Republican challenger to Democratic President Barack Obama in November's general election.

In a question asked of Republicans and Democrats, the poll found South Carolina voters would favor Romney over Obama by 46 percent to 40 percent.

Asked who they would choose if the nomination contest were solely between Romney and Gingrich, 62 percent of Republicans picked Romney and 30 percent went for Gingrich.

Senior Republican figures and business executives have berated Gingrich for painting multi-millionaire Romney as a ruthless corporate raider. Many Republican voters are also turned off by the attacks, highlighted in a video documentary produced by a funding group that backs Gingrich.

"I think those attacks are misguided. The process of any economy has long been one of creative destruction. Some things grow and some things disappear," said Steve Matthews, a lawyer from Columbia, South Carolina, who plans to vote for Romney.

Romney argues that many more jobs were created by Bain than were lost in his time there.

Santorum, who surged into second place in the Iowa caucuses before fading in New Hampshire, got a boost on Saturday when Christian conservative leaders meeting in Texas endorsed him.

After Gingrich, Texas Governor Rick Perry placed next in the Reuters/Ipsos poll with 6 percent support. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who was third in the New Hampshire primary, came in the lowest in the South Carolina poll with 3 percent support.

"Even if Romney loses South Carolina by a point or two, he's got the organization, he's got the financial backing to do the long battle of attrition that other challengers really don't," said Jackson of Ipsos.

Romney's campaign announced this week it raised $24 million in the last three months of 2011, while Paul raised $13 million and Gingrich raised $9 million. Obama is way ahead of the Republicans in fundraising.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online from January 10-13 with a sample of 995 South Carolina registered voters. It included 398 Republicans and 380 Democrats.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online surveys but this poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5 percentage points for Republicans and 3.4 percentage points for all voters.

(Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan in South Carolina, Editing by Alistair Bell and John O'Callaghan)

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Comments (33)
IntoTheTardis wrote:
Of course he’s ahead. Romney is the candidate the GOP always wanted! And anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

Jan 14, 2012 9:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
MrsD wrote:
I am for Romney…here’s why…Competence, integrity, fiscally experienced, ability to work across party lines…remember he was pretty successful as Gov of Mass. despite an 85 percent democratic majority…, and finally, he will be able to work with our allies in the same way he has done domestically. I trust him to use self control e.g. he will “walk softly and carry a big stick”. Just about everyone I know is supporting Romney. Meanwhile: Solyndra has reared its ugly head again with at least 12 more companies to follow..making Soloyndra look like the tip of the iceberg. We are now borrowing over 10 BILLION a DAY!! Our debt has risen over 40 percent in Obama’s short term. think, I thought Bush was a big spender…Now he looks like a miser!!

Jan 14, 2012 9:29pm EST  --  Report as abuse
doggydaddy wrote:
Of course, people are free to deny it all they want, but our Founding Fathers were progressives. At least the most influential ones:


— adj

1. of or relating to progress

2. proceeding or progressing by steps or degrees

3. ( often capital ) favouring or promoting political or social reform through government action, or even revolution, to improve the lot of the majority: a progressive policy

— n

9. a person who advocates progress, as in education, politics, etc

Now consider who the Republicans are about to anoint as their Presidential nominee, the one who shouted, “People ARE corporations, my friend,” and consider the following quote from one of the true Fathers of the American Progressive Movement:

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.

Thomas Jefferson

The US has been following a “conservative” path at least sense Reagan was President and you’ll probably agree that our country is NOT better off for it. Carter, Clinton, and Obama have all been moderates, not liberals. Not even close. Our economic policies have been based on supply-side economics and its only proven to be advantageous for the top 1%–at best. But it’s been money heaven for the top .001%, which is where the elitist Mitt Romney is from. But the bottom line is that the vast majority of people in America are hurting. Obama is on the right side of the argument, but he’s limited in what he can do. Maybe he’ll be a little bolder during a 2nd term since he doesn’t face reelection. However, the policies that Romney is advocating will only hurt our nation, that is unless you are one of the wealthiest .001% (which of course wouldn’t stop Romney from hurting our nation.)

It’s time to start considering the best interests of the majority of Americans and if our government isn’t going to recognize this most glaring reality then it’s just a matter of time before the people take it upon themselves to straighten things out. That’s how it’s worked throughout history. So it would behoove the tiny pocket of elitists that run our country, of which Romney belongs, to recognize this and start addressing the concerns of the American people. Otherwise, they risk losing it all. I just wonder if they’re not so addicted to the continuing stockpiling of their wealth that they can no longer help themselves and would rather risk it all than to rethink their approach. But Romney’s policies are just a continuation of what we got from Bush. He wants to drastically cut taxes for the wealthy, increase military spending, and go to war with Iran, in which none of his sons will be asked to participate. Mostly sons of the poor, working, and Middle classes will fight and die in Romney’s war with Iran. We just can’t continue on this track and the American people are fast waking up to that fact. Until we get serious change, regardless of who becomes President, the protests are going to get bigger and they are going to get angrier, and it’s because the people won’t have any other choice. FOX and the rightwingers will do their very best to protect the status quo and disparage the Americans who decide to start sticking up for themselves, but because the American people see no other option, the protests will continue to grow.

Jan 14, 2012 9:43pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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