Mitt Romney in Charge in South Carolina
Around the State
A new poll from American Research Group released Monday shows that former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is leading the Republican presidential race in South Carolina, traditionally the first state in the South to hold a presidential primary.
The South Carolina Republican primary -- set up with the help of legendary Republican operative the late Lee Atwater, a native of the Palmetto State -- has proven decisive in recent years, helping to erect a firewall in the region for Atwater’s candidate George H.W. Bush in 1988 and propelling front-runners Bob Dole over Pat Buchanan in 1996 and George W. Bush over John McCain in 2000.
Romney leads the pack with 25 percent, with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has yet to declare if she is running, in second with 16 percent. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota placed third with 13 percent, followed by businessman Herman Cain, based in neighboring Georgia, with 10 percent.
The rest of the field trailed in single digits. Two other candidates who have left the door open to running but have not officially entered -- Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani -- tied for fifth with 6 percent. Despite being from neighboring Georgia, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich garnered only 3 percent. Three candidates -- U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana -- tied for eighth with 2 percent. The rest of the pack -- former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah, former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota -- took less than 1 percent.
The poll shows dramatic developments since an earlier one in April. In that poll, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who has since announced that he will not run in 2012, led with 20 percent followed by Romney with 18 percent. Billionaire and reality television star Donald Trump, who also announced he was not running, took third with 13 percent, followed by Palin with 10 percent.
Besides Palin and Romney, the two polls show momentum for other candidates in South Carolina -- namely Bachmann and Cain. Bachmann had 5 percent in April and now stands at 13 percent, while Cain moved up from 1 percent in April to 10 percent today.
Gingrich is the one candidate who took a step back since April. He moved back from 9 percent in April to his current 3 percent.
The poll of 600 likely South Carolina Republican primary voters was taken from July 12-17 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.