COLUMBIA (WACH) - With two weeks to the South Carolina Primary, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney holds his lead, however, Rick Santorum has taken a surprising leap ahead of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich according to the latest Ramussen Reports telephone survey in South Carolina.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul holds 11 percent of the vote while Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman are still in the race, but have fallen to the rear with 5percent and 2 percent of votes respectively. Before dropping out of the race, Herman Cain was in the lead with 33 percent of the votes.
The latest findings from South Carolina parallel national voting trends of Repulicans following the Iowa causcuses, with Romney out front with 29 percent support. Santorum, after his photo finish with Romney in Tuesday??s caucuses, runs second at 21 percent, with Gingrich in third with 16 percent of the vote. The January 21 primary in South Carolina is especially critical for Santorum who has largely written off next Tuesday??s first-in-the-nation New Hampshire Primary and is counting on the conservative, evangelical vote in the southern state to build the momentum for his candidacy.
Anything can happen in South Carolina, however, with nearly half the state??s primary voters (48%) saying they still could change their minds. Just 41 percent are certain already of how they will vote.
It??s important to note, too, that 66 percent of all likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina, regardless of whom they want to win, think Romney will ultimately win the party??s presidential nomination. Just 11 percent predict that Santorum will be the GOP nominee, while nine percent expect Gingrich to triumph. Forty-five percent say Romney would be the strongest Republican against President Obama versus 18 percent who feel that way about Gingrich and 16 percent who say that of Santorum.
Only nine percent of these voters even somewhat approve of the job Obama is doing as president.
This South Carolina survey of 750 Likely Republican Primary Voters was conducted on January 5, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.